Aldermen do about-face on pool management firm

Duncan believes community wanted LGU to be retained

By Kari Williams

All but one of the aldermen who previously opposed hiring Midwest Pool Management to operate the Crest-wood Aquatic Center reconsidered their position last week after evaluating the financial impact of not selecting the low bidder.

The Board of Aldermen voted 7-1 Feb. 26 to reconsider an ordinance approving a pool management con-tract with Midwest Pool Management, or MPM.

Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan was opposed to re-considering the ordinance.

Final approval of the ordinance will be considered by the board March 12.

The Board of Aldermen voted 4-3 Feb. 12 — Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild was absent — to select Lifeguards Unlimited, or LGU, as the pool’s management company, despite LGU not submitting the lowest bid. LGU currently manages the Aquatic Center.

MPM’s not-to-exceed salary amount was $158,611, while LGU’s not-to-exceed amount was $165,130.

Selecting MPM will save Crestwood roughly $34,000 over the four-year period of the contract.

Duncan said she did not vote in favor of reconsidering MPM because there was much community input and she believed retaining LGU was “a very important thing” the community seemed to want.

Residents and LGU employees have addressed the board in favor of retaining LGU’s services, while some aldermen have expressed concern about tarnishing the city’s bid process if it were to select LGU over MPM, the low bidder.

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel told the board last week he wanted to reconsider his “no” vote because “the costs to the city both monetarily and otherwise outweigh the case presented by the lifeguards and LGU.”

LGU lifeguard Robert Schroell said he understands continuing with LGU is a risk for the board, but asked the board to consider the precedent it is setting for community involvement.

“Many of you have stated that this issue has been the largest public support issue that you’ve seen,” Schroell said. “Well, what kind of precedent are you setting for those people who want their issues talked about and passed if you deny the largest public support issue?”

Mayor Jeff Schlink said he believes what is important is that the community did get involved in the issue.

“I think you opened up the dialogue quite a bit. I think you made a lot of us think a lot more on an issue we probably would have just looked at the cover sheet, maybe heard feedback from a few residents, things of that nature,” Schlink said. “So you did a very good job of having us pause and making sure we were looking at every document that was provided … and listening to every word that you all spoke while you were here.”

Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen, who also voted against MPM Feb. 12, said he finds it difficult to look at the more expensive option, despite LGU being a “high-quality company.”

The city also has to make changes in its revenue stream if it is “to continue to supply services to our deserving residents,” according to Ward 4 Alderman John Foote, who also voted against MPM Feb. 12.

“My apologies to those who banked on the fact that we could change this,” Foote said, “but the economic pressures are such that we’re going to have to bow to them and continue respecting the bid process in an attempt to get the best service dollar we can for the tax dollar spent.”