Hot Springs work on schedule

Progress unhindered by water problems

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The new tower that will house the tops of the water slides at the Old Town Hot Springs, shown here Thursday morning, is under construction along with the springs-heated leisure pools.

— A $3.5 million renovation project at the Old Town Hot Springs is on schedule for a holiday finish, Director Pat Carney said Thursday.

"We're shooting for Christmas," Carney said. "That's our goal, but you never know with construction."

Carney said business has been down because of the construction, but that customers have understood. The Hot Springs is a major draw for local residents and visitors.

"The guests are handling it," she said. "They have a sense of humor."

Ted Swain, a frequent visitor to the Hot Springs, said he hasn't noticed a decrease in the number of people visiting the facility and said he is excited about the new additions.

Cam Boyd, who was leaving the Hot Springs after a massage Thursday afternoon, said a loss in available workout space as a result of the construction has led to overcrowding.

"It's been a pain," Boyd said. "I haven't been coming as much as I used to."

Carney said the construction process has produced its share of surprises. TCD Construction is the contractor for the project.

"It has been kind of an archaeological dig in some ways because we keep finding new stuff," Carney said.

Surprises have included the discovery of a couple of new hot springs and a 100-year-old clay water pipe. The latter discovery was hit during excavation and led to one of the water problems leaving water all over the construction site. Carney said they knew the pipe was somewhere, but there were no plans showing its exact location.

The second problem was discovered this week when work began on the Heart Spring; excavation around the spring's pool revealed a leak. After attempts to plug the leak failed, the decision was made to drop a well and either pump the leaking water back into the spring or to the mechanical room to join water that will help heat the sidewalks at the facility.

Carney estimated as much as 100 gallons a minute have been leaking for years from the Heart Spring, which already produces 200 to 300 gallons a minute and feeds all of the Hot Springs' pools. No city water is used in any of the pools and extra spring water not being used flows into the Yampa River.

The most noticeable progress at the Hot Springs has been the construction of a water slide tower on the building's east end. In addition to the tower, the slide pool has been built. A water slide built in 1981 is being replaced by two shorter slides, Carney said. Although the slides are shorter, Carney said they would provide "a little more thrilling, speedy ride."

Work on the Heart Spring continues this week, with the construction of a new, curving activity pool surrounded by landscaping beginning next week. Water in the activity pool will be 98 to 100 degrees and will include a rock climbing wall in its deep end that guests can climb up and drop back down into the water.

These additions and a new deck that will sit above the mechanical room required the hillside to the east of the Hot Springs be dug into 20 feet to create extra space.

An addition to the lobby, although incomplete, is open and usable as of earlier this week. An elevator is being installed at the east end of the lobby to make the second-story weight room handicapped-accessible.

"It looks like a mess now, but hopefully over the next three weeks, it will start to take shape," Carney said.

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