With the outdoor pool season now closed, the Kirksville Aquatic Center has completed a phase of its inaugural year.
The outdoor swimming ended on Labor Day Monday while the indoor pool remained open. The parks and leisure department is waiting for final visitor numbers for September, but the facility started the month with nearly 23,000 visitors since it opened on June 26th. Rodney Sadler, Director of Parks and Recreation, expects around 25,000 visitors.
Sadler said during a meeting of the Lakes, Parks and Recreation Commission Tuesday the outdoor pool will stay filled in case they have to postpone some swimming lessons from the indoor pool. There is still some painting to be done inside so these classes can go outside while the weather remains pleasant.
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After the end of the season, Sadler spoke about the course of the first few months of operation. On the concession side, the facility has already exceeded expectations.
The department budgeted $ 61,000 in concession income for the year. With a few days in June and then all of July and August, the water center has already dwarfed that.
“We opened late, we had basically closed all of June, and we have already exceeded what we had planned for our concessions,” said Sadler. “So it went really well.”
The facility also exceeded 75 percent of its forecasted admission fees for the year and more than 87 percent of its activity fees for the year.
And on the staffing side, Sadler said the facility was lucky. There were times when the center was busy and needed additional help, with the department staff sometimes stepping in to help alleviate this. But once a rhythm was found, the staff numbers worked well. Since they’ll have a more regular opening next spring, Sadler believes they may need fewer staff.
With the opening delay, Sadler estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the originally hired staff were elsewhere prior to the June 26 opening. But the pool prevented personnel crises like others in the region.
“We were pretty lucky with our lifeguards that we have just enough to make ends meet,” said Sadler. “If you look at Moberly, or some of the other pools in our area, they all closed two or three weeks ago because they just weren’t staffed enough. Staffing is a problem all over town, people looking for help are everywhere, and it is the same everywhere. It’s difficult to get enough staff and get this staff to show up right away so kudos to our staff.
“I would not like to say to our community, ‘Sorry, the pool has to be closed and what you paid for with the family pass is ending prematurely,'” said Sadler. “A lot of swimming pools had to do that this year, so we were lucky enough to have enough lifeguards to keep going.”
In June, the city bought four additional lighting poles for the outdoor pool, as there was still money in the project’s emergency fund. These masts are scheduled to arrive this week and will be installed soon after. These lights, some of which have loudspeakers attached, will give the center more flexibility for night swimming in the outdoor pool in the future.
And because Irvinbilt, the contractor for the project, missed his spring deadline, the city had to pay compensation. That number ended up being worth $ 49,000. This has led to several pavement improvements in city parks and upcoming work in Rotary Park.
Sadler hopes all construction, including makeup, will be completed by October.