Denver closed Mestizo-Curtis Pool to rebuild it. When? Who knows?

Denver Parks and Recreation lacks a design or a timeline for a new Five Points pool — one of many incomplete bond projects.
4 min. read
The Mestizo-Curtis Park pool is closed for the summer. June 15, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Most summers, the Mestizo-Curtis Pool is filled with splashing children and lap swimmers cooling off from the hot summer sun. This year, the city shuttered Denver’s oldest outdoor pool to build a new one, funded by $6 million voters approved in the Rise Denver bond in 2021.

But construction has not begun. A design has not been drafted. A timeline has not been approved. 

Of the $206 million voters have approved in bonds for the parks department since 2017, just $73 million has been spent, and many projects have yet to break ground. 

Approved projects, like the Curtis-Mestizo Pool, are still underway and will be eventually delivered, wrote Parks and Recreation spokesperson Stephanie Figueroa.

But community members like Sue Glassmacher are wondering: What’s going on? Why is there no timeline? Why hasn’t work begun? And if the pool is going to be shuttered, surely the city should be doing something? 

“It is a crime to keep this pool closed,” Glassmacher said. “It gets heavy use from youth that need it most.”

Though the city says it’s keeping the public involved in the process, Glassmacher says her neighborhood isn’t getting the answers it needs. 

“The neighborhood reps to Parks and Rec keep asking about progress and timeline, getting no answers,” she wrote. 

Denverite dug into what’s going on to warrant the closure. 

According to the city’s Go Bond Project Status dashboard and Denver Parks and Recreation, not one cent has been spent on the construction project. 

The parks department closed the pool without even drafting a timeline for the project, and it still doesn’t have one, according to Parks and Recreation spokesperson Stephanie Figueroa. 

Though the department closed the pool, it has yet to negotiate a contract with HDR Architecture, its design firm of choice. Once it does, a timeline can be established. 

The Mestizo-Curtis Park pool is closed for the summer. June 15, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

There will be “an iterative and inclusive” design process “lasting approximately one year,” Figueroa said. 

So why close it down before preliminary work has begun? That’s the question on residents’ minds, especially since the parks department notes similar projects have taken up to three years to complete. 

“The Mestizo-Curtis pool is past the end of its useful life and requires a replacement to ensure it can continue to serve the community for years to come,” Figueroa wrote. 

How much have voters approved in bonds and how much has the parks department completed?

In 2017, Denver voters approved the Elevate Denver bond that gave the parks department more than $152 million. Less than half of that has been spent. 

Three years ago, the city came to voters again, asking them to pass the RISE Denver bond, including another $54 million for Parks and Recreation. Of that, just $1 million has been spent.

Both bonds included funding for other agencies. 

From 2017’s Elevate Denver bond, the city successfully completed spending $171 million on cultural facilities and another $75 million on Denver Health projects. However, new projects for public safety, transportation and mobility, and the library system continue to lag behind. 

As for the 2021 RISE Bond, the city is more than halfway done spending $39 million on housing and shelter, though it’s lagging behind in spending down $104 million for Denver facilities and $63 million for transportation projects. 

The Mestizo-Curtis Park pool is closed for the summer. June 15, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“While design and development activities require significant time and effort, they represent a fraction of the total project costs, with most funds being allocated to construction costs,” Figueroa added. “Therefore, total spending is not reflective of all the progress that has been made.”

So how will the parks department decide to prioritize spending of Elevate and RISE bonds?

“There is an iterative process for sequencing the workplans for RISE and Elevate projects,” Figueroa explained. “Importantly, the city has three years from debt issuance to use the monies for the voter-approved projects, so the workplans will balance our debt issuance requirements and our commitment to have all projects open to the public by the end of 2027.”

While the city begins its planning process, the pool is still closed and the Five Points neighbors are still wishing they could go swimming.

Until the city figures out its design and timeline, local kids will have to wait it out or go elsewhere.

“During the closure, there are many other indoor and outdoor public pools open to help keep residents physically fit and cool during the summer,” Figueroa noted. “The closest pools are Glenarm, Globeville Argo Park Pool and Aztlan Recreation Center Pool.” 

Only one of those is within easy walking distance: the Glenarm Recreation Center — an indoor pool.

A full list of public pools is available here.

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