Councilors will consider refinancing bonds to pay for several other projects

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FARMINGTON — A bond refinancing plan could help the city of Farmington pay for several quality-of-life projects, including a new aquatic facility, a complete river trails system and a new miniature golf course.

The City Council Tuesday moved forward on a plan to replace the aging Brookside Pool with an aquatic facility. The city will refinance bonds to generate up to $6 million for the pool.

The council may consider using a similar approach to fund a potentially revenue-generating miniature golf course in Civitan Park, and finish the east and west sides of the Animas River Trail.

Lap lanes and a lazy river

City Manager Rob Mayes told the council that if the city refinances for more than $5.4 million toward the pool project, it will increase the amount of payments the city will make each year.

Farmington closed Brookside Pool last year due to concerns about its degrading infrastructure. The city then decided to replace it with an aquatic facility that includes water slides and a lazy river.

The city will ask for bids on the Brookside aquatic facility that include an optional three lap lanes. The cost of the facility with lap lanes is estimated at approximately $5.8 million, which is about $560,000 more than without the lanes.

"It does provide an option, I think, to meet several needs in the community," Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Cory Styron said.

About half a dozen Farmington residents attended the meeting to speak in favor of the lap lanes.

"This gives us a lot more options to swim laps all through the day," said Darryl Firestone.

He said the Brookside Pool offered lap swimming only during a certain time of day.

"We'll never have Brookside back, the spirit of the original pool," said Sarah Walker.

She added that the design with the lap lanes is the closest the city will get.

"I think it's a pretty good compromise," Donald Walker said.

More projects considered

The council also may choose to refinance the bonds for $10 million to $11 million and use the money to complete other quality-of-life projects within the city. Those include building a miniature golf course at Civitan Park and using approximately $2 million to complete the river trails system.

While the projects will increase the amount the city will pay annually, officials say projects like the aquatic facility and a miniature golf course would improve central Farmington and help businesses. The miniature golf course is also anticipated to generate revenue.

"We believe very, very strongly that it can pay 100 percent of its operation," Mayes said.

He said the miniature golf course could also generate enough money to pay part of the bond payments.

Mayes also suggested refinancing the bonds to pay for the trails system along the river. He said it would take $500,000 to finish the west side of the Animas River trails and another $1.5 million to finish the east side, which would stretch beyond Piñon Hills Boulevard.

Refinancing the bonds to pay for both the miniature golf course and the trails system would increase the city's annual payments by an estimated $150,000 to $250,000.

Mayor Tommy Roberts acknowledged that the city is "not in great economic times." However, he said the projects will help make the community a better place.

"I would like to see the trails considered," Councilor Gayla McCulloch said. "That's one of my favorite projects."

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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