Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Operating procedures concern as aquatic center nears completion

January 12, 2006

Although De Soto interim City Administrator Mike Webb has no concerns about the city's new municipal pool being finished for a Memorial Day weekend opening, he and other city officials are feeling the crunch.

The concern is getting an operational and organization plan in place before the opening of what he said should be correctly called an aquatic center.

"Every time we sit down to talk about this, we think of 10 more things we have to do," Webb said. "We're moving from a basic 1950s and '60s pool with a small infant wading pool, to an aquatic center with four different pool elements designed to entertain the whole family."

With all the pool's swimming areas poured, buildings up and underground electrical and plumbing work completed, the pool is on schedule for an April 1 substantial completion date. Some decks remain to be poured and plumbing and electrical work continues in the concession and shower structures, Webb said.

The plan now is to invite De Soto residents to a grand opening tour of the pool the week before the swim season starts, Webb said.

"It will be geared to the community," he said. "It's a community asset. We want to make sure they get the first chance to see it."

In addition to being on schedule, enough of the pool construction contingency fund was saved to add back in toddler and family slides taken out of the basic construction bid for cost-saving measures. At city engineer Mike Brungardt's recommendation, the De Soto City Council approved purchase of the two slides for $53,000.

The city is waiting for final confirmation of its 2005 Community Development Block Grant before proceeding with the paving of the parking lot west of the Community Center, installation of sidewalks to the pool and the pouring of a slab for a shelter near the pool.

Webb said the plan was to fill the aquatic center some time in the first week of April. Small mechanical problems will undoubtedly pop up at that time, Webb said, making him thankful for the five- to six-week window to opening.

That time will also allow De Soto Parks and Recreation Director Jay Garvin and his new assistant to refine the pool's operational plan. Everything needed to be reconsidered, Webb said, from admission procedures to concessions.

To help with that transitional planning, the De Soto City Council approved last Thursday the creation of a new park department position of a pool/recreational manager at the cost in 2006 of $38,533 in salary and benefits.

It is hoped the city could hire someone with experience in managing a modern pool from another city, Webb said. The new hire would have time to call other cities to get answers to questions the person couldn't answer from experience, he said.

The new person would also be called on to complete the schedule of recreational and special programs at the pool, Webb said. Those would include a standard, if expanded, schedule of exercise classes and swimming lessons, but the city is also looking at extending the season on weekends beyond Labor Day.

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