The Mesa City Council returns from its summer break this morning for a study session that will look into an additional $6.5 million in city pool reconstruction that officials say could help attract regional swim meets - and draw more local swimmers.
The 7:30 a.m. study session precedes Monday's regular meeting, when the council will vote on approving major reconstruction of Rhodes Junior High School's pool.
The council in April voted to approve $8 million in renovations to Kino Junior High School's pool. Both projects would be paid for from the city's "quality of life" half-cent sales tax approved in 1996.
Rhett Evans, director of the parks, recreation and commercial facilities department, said the changes will bring the pools up to code.
Renovations planned at Rhodes include adding a FlowRider wave feature, which allows guests to learn how to bogey board or surf on a standing wave. It would be the first FlowRider in an Arizona public pool, Evans said.
"It creates interest. It creates the ability for people to learn new things, do new things, versus just coming down a slide," he said.
In addition, plans include creating a zero-depth entry to the pool for smaller children, a warm-up pool and a splash pad for them to play in that will spray water.
Renovations under way at Kino include a deepening of the pool from 3.5 feet to 6 feet to allow for competition, as well as a zero-depth entry and warm-up pool. The deeper pools in Mesa will allow the city to begin planning or vying to host regional events that could bring more revenue to the city, Evans said.
"A lot of regions are looking for places to come and to work out and to swim," he said. "In the winter, we have good weather."
He said similar renovations made a big difference for Carson Junior High School, which after reconstruction saw a dramatic increase of public summer use from 3,645 swimmers in 2006 to 18,965 this summer.
The city has other aging pools that will be renovated in years to come. The oldest pool, at Mesa Junior High School, was built in 1959.
The council on Monday also will approve its latest annual agreement with Valley Metro for bus and transit services, which includes more than a $1 million decrease in city funding for buses due to a jump in funding from a countywide sales tax.
Mesa's budget will provide $4.8 million toward transit services, a decrease from last year's $6.1 million.
The latest agreement includes $5.2 million in funding from the countywide sales tax for Mesa transit programs, up from $2 million last year. Last year's funding focused on Dial-a-Ride services, but this year the city gained funding for three bus services when the sales tax began funding the Southern Avenue and Dobson Road bus routes, as well as a new Red Mountain Express bus that runs on Loop 202 to downtown Phoenix.
Mike James, deputy director of transportation, said the city is already seeing positive results from the new funding. The new express route was packed full on its first day of operation, he said.
"It's a lifesaver really, for our transit program," James said. "It's not just putting the buses out there, but it has increased frequencies and peak hours."