Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
The indoor swimming pool at Los Altos Park in the Northeast Heights is a special place to local residents, Mayor Richard Berry said Tuesday.
"It's the place where so many people learned how to swim, where they had their first jobs as a lifeguard, where they would come for pool parties for birthdays," he said.
Berry, Parks and Recreation director Barbara Taylor, District 7 City Councilor Diane Gibson and others gathered at Los Altos for the formal groundbreaking of a $5.66 million project to renovate the facility. The renovation is expected to be completed in October 2018.
As part of the project, the building surrounding the pool will be torn down and a new one constructed, expanding the interior space from 10,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet, said Mike Heitman, project architect with Greer Stafford Architecture. The decks surrounding the pool will be widened up to 8 feet, alleviating congestion around lifeguard stands at times of peak usage, he said.
The building itself will be highly insulated, cutting down on energy loss during the winter. Locker rooms and shower areas will double in size, and be made ADA-compliant, Heitman said.
There will also be a new front entrance and lobby area, new offices, a renovated recreational meeting area, improvements to the parking lot and landscaping upgrades.
Ironically, very little has to be done to improve the pool itself, quite an achievement considering its age, said Taylor. The plumbing is solid and the pool has the highest gallons-per-minute water circulation rate of any of the other pools operated by the city, making it both efficient and extremely clean.
"The Los Altos pool opened in 1959 as an outdoor pool, and by 1962 was so popular that it was enclosed by a building with a retractable roof and walls. It became the city's first year-round pool" and now attracts up to 75,000 visitors a year, Taylor said. A 1990 renovation removed the ability to open the roof. Over the years, the building continued to age and deteriorate, making the present renovation badly needed.
Gibson, in whose district the pool is located, was a driving force behind the project. She told the crowd that she was lucky to have the support of the entire City Council, as well as the Mayor's Office. "We were all kind of in synch on this," she said. "The pool itself is in great shape, so it just seemed like a crying shame to lose that as a city asset."
Gibson said Los Altos Park is a jewel among the city's many parks. Also located on the grounds of the 32-acre park are six tennis courts that are double striped to accommodate pickleball, four lit softball fields, 12 horseshoe pits, a dog park, a skate park and the Albuquerque Garden Center.
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