The Blaine County Recreation District will close its Aquatics Center in Hailey for the season at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18. The next morning, heavy machinery will roll in to give the pool an overhaul.

The BCRD will break ground on the new development—including a new pool—this summer, and at 4 p.m. on Monday its board will hold a public hearing at the Community Campus in Hailey to discuss financing that and other projects in fiscal 2020.

The taxing district will weigh a $5.78 million spending plan for the upcoming year, including a range of big-ticket purchases: the pools, development of its public lot at the mouth of Quigley Canyon and purchasing a new PistenBully machine to groom its Nordic trails, as well as its other core operations.

“This will be our largest budget that I’m aware of,” said BCRD Executive Director Jim Keating. “It’s exciting—a lot of projects that we’ve been planning for a long time are coming to fruition.”

The Rec District has been preparing for it for years, Keating said. It expects to take in just over $5 million next year: slightly less than $1.5 million from property taxes, good for nearly 30 percent of revenue; another $1 million or so from “earned” operational income; and some $2.5 million in donations.

Though that won’t cover tentative expenses, the BCRD has another $4 million saved in cash, contributions and pledged commitments for projects.

The district expects to spend $2.5 million total on the new Aquatics Center. Last year, it spent $500,000 to renovate the bathhouse. And, in June, the board unanimously agreed to commit $1.52 million for the next phase: building a second “leisure” pool and a whirlpool and restoring the existing lap pool, built in 1985.

“We need to get that work done before the ground freezes and the snow comes down,” Keating said.

Once that happens, work on site improvements—decking, fencing, landscaping, etc.—will pick back up in the spring.

At Quigley, the BCRD plans to develop the infrastructure for a park at the mouth of the canyon, putting in a road, utilities, parking and irrigation. Keating said the BCRD is “totally committed” to moving the bicycle pump track to the new location, too, because this time next year its space near the Aquatics Center will have a pool in it.

Keating also hopes to buy a new groomer sometime next fiscal year, another $250,000 line item. That’s a scheduled replacement. The BCRD owns seven snow groomers to maintain the 100 miles of winter trails it manages in the county.

The board doesn’t have to set a tentative budget on Monday—by law, it isn’t due to be published until mid-August. But Keating said he hopes to get a plan in place by the time the first bills for the pool come in.

“We’re going to hit the ground running,” he said.

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