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St. Peters moves ahead with aquatic center, despite alderman calling it a ‘kiddie pool’

A rendering of the proposed aquatic center in St. Peters

Plans and construction of St. Peters’ new aquatic center are moving ahead, despite one city alderman calling the revised design a “kiddie pool.”

The city’s Board of Aldermen approved the bill by a 6-2 vote at its May 25 meeting, authorizing the city to enter a $3.69 million contract with Westport Pools, Inc. for the design and building of the center to be built near the city’s Rec-Plex complex off Mexico Road. City officials hope to have the center completed by Memorial Day 2018.

The center, and a new city golf and banquet center, were major features touted in Proposition Q, a $12 million “no tax increase” bond issue that received overwhelming voter approval in the August 2016 election. The bond issue included $3.5 million for the center and $5.7 million for improving the golf course at 200 Salt Lick Road, just south of Interstate 70.

The initial plans for the center included diving boards and a “lazy river” feature, but those plans changed as city officials and Westport began negotiations in March. The board also discussed the changes as part of the its 2017-18 budget discussions in May.

City Administrator Russ Batzel said after that meeting that the changes in the original layout for the pool were designed to address cost issues.

The board opted for “option two,” which included changes to the original center proposal and a discussion of improvements for the city’s outdoor pool at Laurel Park. That option reduces construction costs by $73,928 and annual operating costs mainly by reducing staffing.

As a result, floating down a lazy river will no longer be a choice and the diving boards and deeper portions of two major swimming pools have been eliminated.

Instead, the city is opting for a layout that includes a 4-foot-deep, 7,900-square-foot multipurpose leisure pool with a tipping bucket in the middle. Two 20-foot-tall slides also are included.

The design features a shallow 3,200-square-foot sport and lap pool that could be used for lap swimming, aqua aerobics and activities for all ages. The small pool could be used for water volleyball and basketball.

The center would include a bath house, a spray pad for young children and a party pavilion. The city is discussing using about $200,000 to upgrade the city’s outdoor pool in Laurel Park.

J. Ryan Casserly, president of Westport Pools, told aldermen during a public presentation of the new plan at a May 25 work session that the center will attract all generations of users.

“This is a destination facility for your residents,” Casserly said. He said the water quality should be outstanding because of the modern filtration system planned.

But Alderman Dave Thomas [Ward 1] said, while he was supportive of the center, he was skeptical of changes made from the original voter-supported proposal. Thomas said he recently discussed “option two” with residents, including members and representatives from a local swim team. Their reaction wasn’t positive, he said.

The new design doesn’t include a diving board and is not deep enough for competition swimming or diving, according to Thomas. He said the facility’s new design offers little to attract older children.

He added that the city could use the $73,928 in savings to add depth and a diving board.

Alderman Michael Shea [Ward 3] said the new design eliminated the lazy river feature that would have helped older adults with water aerobics. But adding a diving board and deepening a section of the pool would not benefit older residents, he said.

“I realize that there is a balance: one group gets what they want and one group will not get what they want,” Shea said.

Thomas made a motion in the work session – seconded by Alderman Rocky Reitmeyer [Ward 1] – to ask the board to include a diving board and deeper pool to the proposal. The motion was turned down in a voice vote.

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