Construction workers make progress at pool

Construction workers continue building the Washington City Pool April 6. The pool is expected to be open in late May.

For the first time in recent memory, the Agnes Nolting Aquatic Complex in Washington will stay open through Labor Day weekend rather than closing earlier in August. The change is due to a new pool management contract with Midwest Pool Management that the Washington City Council approved in an 8-0 vote Monday during its regularly scheduled council meeting.

Washington Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Dunker said Midwest Pool has managed municipal and neighborhood pools for years in the St. Louis region, including Washington’s pool prior to the new pool being built.

Midwest Pool was the only company to submit a proposal to the city, which had solicited bids and proposals from several other companies, Dunker said.

The one-year contract, which carries a $167,360 price tag, is $17,360 over what the city had budgeted for pool management.

Dunker and other city officials explained the price difference as a result of a nationwide lifeguard shortage, increases in the state’s minimum wage laws and the cost of expanding the days and hours that the pool will stay open.

This year the pool will be open Sunday through Saturday from noon to 6:30 p.m. beginning May 29. The pool also will stay open during the Washington Town & Country Fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 4-8, and the week after the fair. The pool also will be open during the weekends of Aug. 21-22, Aug. 28-29, and Sept. 4-6.

Ward 3 City Councilman Jeff Patke questioned Dunker whether the city could manage the pool’s day-to-day operation without contracting with a third party given the increased cost.

Dunker and City Administrator Darren Lamb said it would be difficult to do.

“It would take at least another full-time staff member to hire the employees, manage the pool employees and train the employees. We already have one employee who is already doing a lot of work managing the pool’s concession stand, training the staff to work in it and handling everything else they normally do,” Dunker said.

Under the terms of the new contract, Midwest Pool will be responsible for hiring and training lifeguards, daily cleanings of the aquatic complex, vacuuming the pool each day and performing routine pool maintenance such as changing filters and completing daily inspections of the pool slide’s surface. The management company, which has an office in Maryland Heights, also will offer group swim lessons.

The company also will provide lifeguards for private pool parties and other private events held at the pool, which Dunker said “brings in additional revenue” for the parks department.

In other news, city officials learned that the planned playground at Phoenix Center will be installed in 2026, according to the city’s capital improvement plan. The project could be done earlier if the city council agreed to bump another project off of the list or delay another project elsewhere in the city.