SIDNEY — Updates on the Sidney Waterpark for the upcoming summer season were discussed during the Sidney Recreation Board’s special teleconference meeting Monday.
Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier informed board members about a water leak in the large pool at the Sidney Waterpark and the possibility of contracting with an outside company to run the pool.
The leak in the 30-year-old, large pool appears to come from a cracked water line about 13 feet underground that goes to the filter pit, Gaier said. It is believed to be between the pool sub-lining and concrete exterior wall along a footer on the side of the pool where the diving boards are located.
It is “probably (located) in the worst possible place it could be,” he said.
Gaier expressed concern repairs may not be finished by June when the pool is scheduled to open for the season. City staff will continue to work with Patterson Pools to pinpoint the exact location of the leak and develop a plan to remedy the problem.
Also discussed Monday was information about the possibly of contracting an outside company to staff and run the pool. Aside from the pool being closed last year due to COVID-19, Gaier pointed out that the city has struggled for the last several years to hire enough lifeguards to staff the waterpark.
In 2009, 27 lifeguards were on staff at the pool. However, in 2018 there were only 16, and in 2019, 18 lifeguards were on the waterpark staff. The lack of applicants could be from young people participating in sports, or possibly the pay, it was noted in previous city meetings. As additional incentive the city changed its policy last year to pay the $200 fee for the required lifeguard training certification. Previously the fee would have been reimbursed after the end of two years of employment. Also, the pay was going to be raised for city lifeguards, but as Gaier noted, then the coronavirus pandemic hit and the pool did not open in 2020.
With a contractor, which city staff is still considering between two different vendors, the city would only be responsible for filling the pool and ensuring equipment is ready to go, and also for any major repairs to the waterpark. Otherwise, the contractor will be responsible to staff and clean the waterpark and provide chemicals for regular treatments of the pool water. The city would still run the concession stand.
Gaier said the city would contract for one year with whichever contractor is chosen, with an automatic renewal up to three or potentially five years.
At the end of the discussion, the board voted to recommend for the City Council to approve hiring a vendor to run the pool. The issue will be brought before council for consideration at its Jan. 25 meeting.
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