Quincy Park Board retreat to focus on Wavering Aquatic Center's future

Ed Seger, executive director of the Quincy Park District, far right, points out some of the issues with Wavering Pool to board members during a retreat Aug. 12, 2013. (H-W File Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Aug. 5, 2014 8:41 am Updated: Aug. 19, 2014 10:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy Park Board wants to let the taxpayers decide what happens with Wavering Aquatic Center.

When board members gather Wednesday for their annual daylong retreat, Wavering's future will be one of the main items of discussion. Attendance Quincy's public pools -- Wavering and Indian Mounds -- is down again this summer.

Wavering, which opened in 1980, is nearing the end of its useful life. Park Board members plan to place a referendum on the ballot in the April municipal election on the future of the pool.

"We think to be fair to voters, we have to tell them what the renovation entails," Park Board President John Frankenhoff said. "We just can't say, ‘Do you approve or disapprove of a $5 million referendum for Wavering?' We need to have a basic conceptual design of what a new pool might look like and put that out to voters."

Attendance totals for both pools are on track to break what were all-time lows set last year, according to Mike Bruns, the Park District's director of program services. Through July 29, Wavering has had 7,328 visitors and Indian Mounds 7,362, for a total of 14,690. Through the same time last year, the pools had combined to serve 16,599 people.

Attendance at Wavering is down 9.2 percent from last year.

"July has been bad," Bruns said. "June was ahead of last year, but July has not been good."

The pools have been closed for nine days this summer because of poor weather after being closed for four days during the 2013 season. Wavering will be open until Sunday, while Indian Mounds will stay open on a daily basis until Aug. 19. Indian Mounds will be open on weekends through Labor Day, with its last day for the season on Sept. 1.

Frankenhoff said the board wants to see the final numbers for Wavering before making a final decision on how much money to ask for in a referendum.

"I don't think anyone on the board is a strong advocate that this referendum be passed," Frankenhoff said. "We understand that we were voted in to make decisions by the voters. But we feel this is the best way to go about it because it is a huge decision. We want to let the voters decide."

Should the referendum fail, Frankenhoff said Wavering would not close.

"The pool would be open next year, assuming there are no major mechanical failures," Frankenhoff said. "But we'll have to see the next time something fails. If the slide is deemed unsafe, then we may have to close the slide. If another pump or something breaks, there comes a certain point where it's not worth repairing.

"Maybe that happens in the middle of 2015 or it happens two years down the road. No one can predict that."

Frankenhoff said that if the voters pass a referendum for a new Wavering Pool, work on that facility would not start until after the 2016 season.

Board members will go over a number of other issues during the retreat.

"The purpose of the retreat is so staff can get feedback from the board before they begin the budget preparing process for next year," Frankenhoff said.

Frankenhoff said a field of 21 applicants to replace Executive Director Ed Seger has been cut to six people.

"We're now in Phase 2 of that search," Frankenhoff said. "Each of the six candidates has been asked to submit further information, which is due Friday."

Frankenhoff said the board will meet in closed session at its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 13 to discuss the remaining candidates.

"We could decide to interview all six or weed it down to whatever number we want to interview," Frankenhoff said.

The board hopes to announce its selection in November and have the new hire on board in December. Seger announced earlier this year that he would be leaving after his wife, Yulia, began a new job in the Chicago area.

The salary range for the position is listed between $65,000 and $85,000 a year. Seger currently makes $79,880.