The city of St. Peters will allow residents who have a valid pass to use the city’s Rec-Plex to also use the city’s two outdoor swimming pools free of charge for at least one more year while the city’s Board of Aldermen evaluates the cost.
Free use of the city’s outdoor pools for Rec-Plex members has been the case for 20 years; however, the outdoor pool located adjacent to the Rec-plex has enjoyed an upgrade, becoming a full aquatic center, known as “The Cove,” this year. The city also opens an upgraded pool at Laurel Park in 2018.
The Cove was made possible with voter passage of Proposition Q, a $12-million “no tax” increase bond issue approved by city voters in August 2016. The bond issue also included funds for improvements at the city’s golf course, located at 200 Salt Lick Road, just south of Interstate 70.
In late April, the board opted to go along with a staff recommendation for one more year of free use while obtaining hard data based on actual costs.
Rick Oloteo, the city’s manager of recreation and cultural services, told the board that staff estimates now suggest that Rec-Plex members who purchase outdoor swimming pool passes would generate $22,000 in additional revenue. With that amount, the deficit spending for the pools would be about $67,300 and up to $89,300 without that amount. In 2019, those deficits may rise, Oloteo said.
City Administrator Russ Batzel said the swimming pool figures are estimates based on the possible use of the pools. Allowing access to the pools by Rec-Plex pass holders for the 90-day 2018 season will allow the city to gather hard data and make a firmer recommendation to aldermen for 2019.
“I think it’s a great idea to give it one year and see how it’s going,” said Alderman David Thomas, Ward 1, who had made a similar suggestion at the board’s April 12 work session. “I realize $21,000 or $22,000 is a lot of money but with an overall city budget of $110 million, we can do it.”
Allowing Rec-Plex members to use outdoor swimming pools as part of their annual pass goes back to a section of city code adopted in the 1990s. The code states that “the presentation by a St. Peters resident of a valid pass for use of the Rec-Plex will also authorize admission to other St. Peters owned and operated swimming pools.”
Oloteo said aldermen in the 1990s added this language in an attempt to attract memberships to the Rec-Plex. In subsequent years, the city has closed four of its five outdoor swimming pools and the language remained.
Still, the news surprised some elected officials. Mayor Len Pagano said the city code language only applied to Gold Pass Rec-Plex membership holders. Batzel said it applied to all Rec-Plex membership holders.
“We’ve been taking a deficit for 20 years on this?” Pagano asked. Batzel replied that the outdoor pools that the city had were smaller and rates were cheaper. Pagano didn’t press the discussion.