A 10-year struggle to get a new swimming pool in Gunnison is nearing an end.

On Tuesday, March 31, officials will open general contractor bids for the pool project. The bid opening is set for 2 p.m. at City Hall.To move ahead on the project, Gunnison officials had to clear months of financial hurdles. They were turned down on their requests for neighboring communities to help pay for the pool.

The old pool, razed several months ago, was used by residents from Centerfield, Fayette, Mayfield and Axtell.

They will continue to use the new pool even though funding is coming solely from Gunnison. "We will be standing alone," city administrator Ray Limb said.

Centerfield officials agreed to participate in the costs providing the pool would be built on school grounds near the adjoining borders of the two communities.

But Gunnison officials insisted it be built on the northwest corner of the Gunnison City Park, so officials in other communities turned thumbs down on requests to financially support the facility.

"We're a little scared. It's a lot of money to come up with for a small town," Limb said.

Funding was obtained from the state Community Impact Board, which gives loans and grants to areas of the state impacted by development of natural resources on public lands.

Gunnison, for instance, has residents who work in nearby coal mines or truck coal for a living.

CIB fund administrator Shirl Clarke said the board agreed to purchase two bonds from the city totaling slightly more than $1.6 million to finance the pool.

He said both loans will be repayable at 2 percent interest, one over a 23-year period and the other over a 30-year period.

The first bond payment comes due in January of 2000.

The city will have to pay upward of $200,000 from its own coffers. That will be raised through taxes on property and energy use or utility license fees, Limb said.

The franchise taxes are paid by residents as a percentage of utility fees, most of the amount coming through billings of Utah Power, Gunnison Telephone Co. and Questar.

Maintenance and cost of the new pool has Gunnison officials concerned. They hope to keep it open year-round but, if necessary, will close the pool part of the year to save money.

"We won't be charging people from other towns more at the gate than Gunnison residents," Limb said. However, city officials a studying the possibility of giving Gunnison residents some type of rebate or discount if they buy seasons passes or tickets.

The pool will be large enough for competitive swimming with six lanes. The facility will also include a 2,552-square-foot wading pool.