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FARMINGTON — The Farmington City Council has approved approximately $500,000 worth of upgrades at Lake Farmington, including a new aqua park, as it prepares for the 2020 swimming season. 

The council unanimously approved the upgrades during its morning work session on Feb. 18.

Over the past few years, the lake has become a popular destination for fishing, boating, swimming and other outdoor recreation activities. 

The planned upgrades include a mid-level aqua park, which will feature large, inflatable play structures and have a capacity of 142 people. This aqua park will be located just beyond the area currently fenced off for The Beach, and visitors will be required to wear life jackets. 

While the council did not approve new rates during the work session, it will approve new rates prior to the start of the swim season.

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The city moved forward with the purchase prior to approving rates because it hopes to have the equipment in place by Memorial Day. The aqua park structure will cost $125,416.

These rates will likely change from $5 per car to $1 per person for lake access. Children three years old or younger will have free admission. Camping fees will remain $10 and will include the $1 lake access fee.

The city is also talking about a $1 per person additional fee to use the popular swimming area known as The Beach. The Beach will provide a safe swimming area with lifeguards, however the City Council voted last month to open the entire lake for swimming.

The aqua park will be accessible by a floating dock at The Beach. There will likely be an additional fee to use the aqua park for 50 minutes. The City Council is debating rates ranging from $5 to $10, and will also consider season passes and punch cards.

The city hopes the revenue from the aqua park will pay for the approximately $500,000 of upgrades within three years.

Other upgrades include a floating dock at the south end of the reservoir for storing rescue equipment like a boat and a jet ski. 

Fire Chief David Burke said there were a couple instances where people nearly died last year at the lake. Storing the equipment there will provide a quicker response time.

When asked about the location on the south end, Burke explained that the current boat launch on the north end of the lake cannot be used by jet skis during droughts.

The City Council also voted to move forward with installing electricity, which could encourage food trucks to locate there and will pave the way for future developments, including cabins. Farmington Electric Utility System gave a rough estimate of approximately $24,000 to install electricity.

In addition to those upgrades, the city will also install vault toilets and two additional changing cabanas.

As the lake continues to grow in popularity, Farmington will need to make additional investments in future years. This includes a dry hydrant that will allow the fire department to pump water from the lake for fire suppression. The city may also choose to pave the road in the future.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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