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Ken-Caryl Metro District to close pool, adjust facility hours

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By Matt Gunn

The fallout from a failed mill levy increase on the November ballot could mean a change in lifestyle for some residents in the Ken-Caryl Metropolitan District.

Among the most significant changes discussed during the districts Nov. 27 budget public hearing were the advent of user fees for swimmers, adjusted operating hours and the closure of the Bradford Pool.

Bottom line, most of the changes here that are being proposed are user fees, said Darrell Windes, district manager. Throughout the election, one of the things the vote-no campaign proposed was turning to user fees.

Ballot issue 5A, which called for a 2.5-mill increase, was the first time since the districts inception in 1988 that it asked for a tax increase.

Another first for the district will come as it turns to resident user fees.

Again, thats one of the few ways we have the district has in recouping the costs, Windes said.

The Bradford Pool, located in the north ranch, will be closed in 2008 in part because the district estimates an $18-per-swimmer admission charge would be needed to cover costs of operating the pool.

Were sorry that the north ranch people are going to have to drive down to swim this summer, but, again, we heard loud and clear from the voters, said Dave Banning, Ken-Caryl Metropolitan District president.

The other two pools, which are at the Ranch House and the Community Center, have a lower operating cost of $7 per swimmer visit.

On top of that, the district has cited the need to replace the filters at the pools, which are 20 to 25 years old. The cost to do so is prohibitive for a district operating without reserve funds.

The previous board boards started the slow grind down to having no funds available for anything, Banning said. We feel as a whole thats a horrible position for the board to be in.

More than 52 percent of eligible voters turned out for the November election, in which ballot issue 5A lost by mere percentage points. And as the district stated in November, other changes could be coming as well as a result.

A more immediate effect is cancellation of Ken-Caryls Holiday Happenings event, which was scheduled Dec. 7. The district also had to eliminate holiday decorations everywhere but the Ranch House.

Events that will be eliminated in 2008 include the Easter Egg Hunt, Fall Fest and Holiday Happenings.

In the long term, residents will be charged $3 per pool visit, and a new system of season swim passes is planned. Fertilizing, watering and tree replacement will be reduced or cut. Rental fees will be charged for group users at all facilities, and operating hours at the Ranch House and Community Center will be reduced.

Believe me, were not trying to chase people out of here; were just looking at cutting down, Banning said.

Some neighborhood groups that have used the Ranch House for free in the evenings might be asked to either alter their schedules or pay a fee.

What were trying to do is maximize the use of this building during operating hours, said Jan Rousselot, a district board member.

Ken-Caryl residents and the district board discussed the prospect of a future mill levy election. One thought is that the changes might help residents appreciate the amenities provided by the district.

My question to everybody here is, do we have to go through the pain of a summer and a winter where we dont provide the services that were used to, before we have another election? Banning said.

The district is holding an election for three of its board seats in May 2008. It could again ask for a mill levy increase at that point or in any other upcoming election if the board feels it stands a chance of being approved.

The ones who voted no thinking theyre going to get out of this thing free; theyre not, Banning said. Because our community is going to start looking diminished.

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com.