Pool partnership to lead to remodel

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After months of uncertainty Missouri Western has announced a potential partnership with the St. Joseph City Council and the St. Joseph School District in order to renovate the university’s indoor pool.

Cale Fessler, vice president of financial planning for the university   describes the project as an inclusive overhaul of the pool and university facilities.

“The proposed renovation would be fairly comprehensive. We would replace the pool interior to deal with the leaking issue; there would be a resurfacing and replacement in part of the pool deck; roof replacement and full scale locker room renovations for both the women’s and men’s locker rooms. The glass front entrance to the facility would be remodeled and a breezeway added so individuals could enter from the circle drive as well as from the interior of the building, so it would be a full scale renovation of the facility instead of just a renovation of the pool lining itself,” Fessler said.

The renovation dates and details remain under discussion as Western continues to look for additional interested partners.

“We have estimated somewhere between $160-170,000  a year in annual operating costs for the pool once it has been fixed. We are still trying to work with other partners if we can find other interested entities, who might be willing to contribute to the pools continued operation,” Fessler said.

The city counsel proposed a potential five year partnership to provide funds to sustain the facility, with City Manager Bruce Woody proposing the city contribute approximately $61,000 per year to the pool.

In a recent interview with the St. Joseph News Press Woody discussed the assets the city could bring to the partnership, including staffing assistance to combat the recent shortage of certified lifeguards in the area.

“The additional thing we would bring to the table is staffing assistance for programming,” Woody said. “Remember that one of our ongoing concerns is lifeguards and we often get concerns, complaints from the public about having enough time for swim lessons.”

In addition to staffing assistance, the partnership will bring in additional opportunities for university recruitment through the aquatic facilities.

The St. Joseph school district has offered to redirect their financial commitment to Missouri Western from the YMCA provided that their swim team be allowed to practice and compete in the new facility. The school district has offered to contribute $22,000 to the university, to maintain the pool and locker rooms.

Solon Haynes, director of student services for the St. Joseph school district was enthusiastic about the partnership with Western.

“I think it will be a great partnership for both the university and the school district. I think that it could benefit both of use by having a larger venue for our student athletes to participate in; I think it would also benefit Missouri Western by getting students out to see the campus,” Haynes said.

While the final decisions for the renovations have not been finalized, students can still expect to have full access the pool for the remaining 2015-2016 school year, with the possibility of construction taking place in the summer of 2016.