Millions still needed for aquatic center at North Domingo Baca Park

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Years after the city opened up a sprawling park in the heights, a key piece is still missing from North Domingo Baca Park. The swimming pool.

The city has spent around $20 million already for all the amenities at the park since 2011, including the gymnasium being built now. That number doesn’t include the cost to build the much used Multigenerational Center. The city still needs a lot more money for the promised aquatic center at the park.

Phase four of the multi-phase project will add the aquatic center, which will include a pool and splash pad. The pool will be for all ages with activities like therapy for the elder and swimming classes for kids. It’s one of the most wanted parts of the park for neighborhoods nearby.

“When you look at where all the pools are located, the greatest concentration is from Montgomery and to the south. And everything north of Montgomery, there’s just really nothing over here for the kids to do,” said Kelly Harrell.

“None of these kids access to a pool. The closest pool by bicycle is five miles. Kids are not going to ride that and parents don’t necessarily have time to drive that,” said Harrell.

“No one thinks it’s even going to happen anymore, so, because we have heard nothing,” Theresa Hall said.

A pool has been part of the park’s master plan since the early 2000s. But today, the spot that should hold a pool, instead, holds a lot of dirt.

“Councilor Winter had been working on getting an aquatic center put in for many years. But, because of its price range, the timeline has been pushed back every year, a little bit further,” Councilor Brook Bassan, who took over for former Councilor Brad Winter, said.

After campaigning on finally getting the pool, Councilor Bassan is trying to get it done.

“I believe it’s really coming down to funding. We want it, we need money,” Councilor Bassan said.

And a lot of it.

Right now, there is $3 million set aside for the aquatic center. That more than covers the cost of the design process which is happening now. But according to Councilor Bassan, the total cost to build an aquatic center is between $17 to $20 million.

She hopes more money can be allotted for the project in future general obligation bond votes. But, she also wants community partners to pitch in.

“I want to make sure to reach out to the county and I’ve already reached out to APS and kind of to no avail. They said they’re not willing to help unless it’s on APS property, which is a little deflating,” she said.

“We want to start working and trying to build coalitions between Bernalillo County and county commissioners. And I would like it if APS could see that this is going to benefit their teams and their schools as well,” Councilor Bassen said.

After over ten years without a pool and with over $10 million still needed, there’s no timeline on when the park will get its aquatic center.

“I’m hoping in the next five years…wouldn’t that be amazing and incredible,” Councilor Bassan said. “Again, I don’t have a guarantee but if we can get more cooperation, then I think we’re going to really speed this up.”

Whether it speeds up or stays steady, neighbors want to be in the loop on the progress of the project.

“When you talk about inflation-adjusted dollars, this is going to be a moving target. It’s just ridiculous,” Harrell said. “I would love to see more communication on the status of the pool.”

A city employee told KRQE News 13, that no money from the aquatic center fund has been used for projects outside of North Domingo Baca Park. However, about $1 million that was set aside for a smaller pool plan at the park was used to build the gymnasium. The gym will be ready in April 2020.

The city is also expected to get $806,000 from the state legislature this year for the aquatic center.

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