Being a resident of Dardenne Prairie sometimes has meant having to pay more to use the swimming pool at Renaud Spirit Center, despite a longtime agreement on the books to charge the same rates as O’Fallon residents pay.
The agreement between the two cities, signed in 2000, stems from the fact that Dardenne Prairie gave O’Fallon the land on which the center stands.
Named after former O’Fallon Mayor Paul Renaud, the center is located in the O’Fallon Sports Park west of Hwy. K and south of Hwy. N. The 66,000-square-foot multi-purpose recreational facility includes a 10,000-square-foot swimming pool and remains popular – with 2,300 annual memberships.
Among those memberships are some for residents of Dardenne Prairie.
There isn’t a lot of money involved – for example, an O’Fallon resident with a resident card pays a $5 admission charge compared to $6.50 for a non-resident admission, and an annual membership for an O’Fallon family is $595 as opposed to a $655 annual rate for a non-resident family.
Still, it’s a situation that for a while has grated on some Dardenne Prairie officials.
The “who pays what” scenario stems from de-annexation agreements that O’Fallon and the then town of Dardenne Prairie entered into in 1996 and amended in 2000. Voters approved Dardenne Prairie becoming a fourth-class city in April 2001.
At the time, Dardenne Prairie and O’Fallon officials reached boundary agreements that set planned growth areas and road improvements on small tracts of land along Hwy. N where the center is now located. As part of those agreements, Dardenne Prairie de-annexed the land which O’Fallon immediately annexed.
A March 2000 amendment to a 1996 agreement states that O’Fallon wanted to use the land “for the public purpose of constructing a public aquatic facility with water park amenities.” The agreement adds that the facility “will be a significant recreational asset for residents of the town (Dardenne Prairie).”
The document, signed by Renaud, further states: “The city (O’Fallon) agrees that the facility with water park amenities should be available for use by residents of the town (Dardenne Prairie) and the charges for use of the facility shall be the same for the residents of the town and city, with no disparity for any reason.”
Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty told the city’s Board of Aldermen at an April 1 work session that the failure to live up to the agreement may be “a breach of contract.”
“The deal was that we gave the ground to O’Fallon as long as they built this water park they were planning and let our citizens use it at the same cost,” Fogarty said.
But according to Fogarty, things may be changing – at least in part. She said City Economic Development Director Tommie Monroe brought up the old agreement recently in a conversation with O’Fallon Mayor Bill Hennessey.
“Tommie said maybe we should get our ground back,” Fogarty said.
Within 24 hours Monroe received an email back from O’Fallon stating that Dardenne Prairie residents would pay the same price for annual memberships as of April 1, with the rates being retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015, Fogarty and Monroe said.
But as of April 9, O’Fallon officials said Dardenne Prairie residents would continue to pay non-resident daily admission rates.
Tom Drabelle, O’Fallon’s communications director, said city staff may be meeting to discuss what to do next.
“The best we can tell is that it wasn’t talked about,” Drabelle said. “It may have slipped through the cracks.”