Summer is saved

Published 8:30 am Thursday, March 28, 2019

City commission, fiscal court move forward with new pool management

After initially hearing a big dollar figure to fix the Jessamine County Aquatics Center, the Nicholasville City Commission and Jessamine County Fiscal Court recently reviewed a proposal from a pool management company that would not only open the facility this summer, but also make it profitable.
“I like the idea that we get the revenue,” Nicholasville Mayor Peter Sutherland said in a recent city commission meeting. “We have never gotten the revenue, it has just been a dead expense to us. Even if it is a third or a quarter, it is better than what we have had.”
After overturning its previous decision not to fund the aquatic center this year, the fiscal court unanimously voted to reverse their decision during last week’s meeting.
“We had previously voted not to participate in the operations of the pool, and I would like the court to consider reversing that decision in light of this new information and we can present a contract for your study and for Brian to review and approve…,” Judge-Executive David West told the fiscal court. “We put a good effort into this and I think we will see a good result.”
Monday, City Commissioner Alex Carter recommended the Nicholasville City Commission move forward on the project by accepting a bid from Professional Pool Management of Kentucky, with an annual cost of $144,750.
“With parks and rec taking a bigger role in this, I think it is now a three-way partnership,” West said at the city council meeting.
The recommendation passed unanimously.
The city commission and fiscal court were initially presented earlier this year with a $1 million repair estimate from the YMCA, which has operated the local pool for the past 17 years. Working for the last eight weeks to find a better solution, Carter said he is optimistic since the repair estimate has decreased significantly.
“Everything is optimistic,” Carter said. “We were working on the repair list for the two pumps at the pool. Lane Water Resources out of Louisville pulled the pumps last Thursday and gave us a repair estimate. The first pump is $7,205 and the second pump is $6,259. So, I would request to move forward with repairing those … We are looking at $13,400 compared to $34,000 in replacing.”
Carter said he talked with the water department, and since the pool water is clean and not pumped up from the river, repairing the pumps would be satisfactory instead of replacing the whole unit.
“That is a lot better than the initial estimate,” Blackford said.
Carter also informed the city commission he is working on the flooring for the splash pad and he feels the city is now in good shape to move forward with the pool.
Brad Hatton from Professional Pool Management of Kentucky met with the court and the commission and informed city officials, based on the numbers he has seen, he can make the facility profitable.
“Assuming those numbers are accurate,” Hatton said. “I have not seen any revenue stream coming in from the facility. I think with the numbers we can present you with we’ll actually turn a profit on this. Richmond does.”
Hatton started off in the pool business almost 30 years ago as a life guard. Now he manages 30 other pools throughout the state of Kentucky. His other facilities include country clubs, HOA’s, water parks and city pools.
Teater asked Hatton out of the pools he operates how many others are for municipalities.
“Two,” Hatton said. “(And) we are slated to pick up a third next year.”
“If you come in and we were to contract with you, would you be responsible for hiring staff and maintaining the pool?” Teater asked.
Hatton said the city would hand him three sets of keys and his company would, “make it happen.” They would work to advertise, hire life guards and hire a regional manager.
They would open the facility and get it functional, as well as meet with the state and make sure it passes inspection.
The city would pay for the permit, but Hatton’s company would take care of the rest. Through summer time, the company would manage all the day-to-day operations of the facility. The city, he said, could be as involved or uninvolved as it would want to be.
In fall, he would close the facility and winterize it.
A preseason inspection would tell the city all it needs to look out for during the season. In fall, Hatton would also give the city a list of all the things the city would need to work on over the winter so it wouldn’t have a surprise later.
Hatton was asked about the concession stand and said he could figure out a way to keep it opened if the city would like.
“(We have a) young man doing the concession stand who reached out to me and he has all the equipment and would like to continue if possible and he has been paying every year,” Black said.
Black also said the young man was paying $600 a month rent to the YMCA to operate at the pool.
“See, we don’t touch your revenue,” Hatton said. “That $600 should go to the city. Like guest fees, I want you to collect your guest fees… My goal is if you put out $100,000 I want to see you bring back in $120,000.”
Carter said the city would handle all admissions through additional staff hired through parks and rec and control all the money coming in from the pool.
“So, do we need to look at raising the admissions on this,” Black asked.
Carter replied, “Let’s see where the market is and see what other pools are charging and be competitive.”
With this new arrangement, the city and county would also be able to open the facility to additional revenue resources, such as parties and private events.
“Richmond does a lot of corporate events before the pool opens or after, they rent the pool out and that helps with profit,” Hatton said.
Hatton told the city commission his pool management fee is good for five years. After which, the typical price increase is 2 percent. Teater asked Hatton what would happen if the city and county agreed to try the arrangement for a year and did not want to proceed afterwards. Hatton made a motion suggesting they would rip up the contract.
“We’ve had conversations with the Y as well, and it was my impression he was not interested. I think this would be good to go a different route,” Carter said.

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