YMCA to take over city’s outdoor pool operations

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Robert Strange Pool at 410 S. 10th St. in Wilmington. Photo courtesy the City of Wilmington.
Robert Strange Pool at 410 S. 10th St. in Wilmington. Photo courtesy the City of Wilmington.

The City of Wilmington has entered into an agreement with the Wilmington Family YMCA over the operation of the city’s three outdoor swimming pools.

According to Amy Beatty, the city’s interim recreation superintendent, the move will free up the city’s personnel to focus on things other than operating and maintaining the pools, which are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“Outsourcing pool operations will result in enhanced recreational and safety and programming at the city’s three pools and an increase in pool operating hours,” Beatty said. “Outsourcing will allow for additional capacity among parks and recreational staff to enhance programming in other areas.”

A request for proposals to manage and operate the facilities was put out in February by the city, according to Beatty. It garnered six applications, including the YMCA, which currently operates two indoor pools at its 2710 Market St. location.

“The YMCA is prepared to provide season-long in-service training to assigned pool personnel,” said Beatty. “That service, combined with the YMCA’s large aquatics program and personnel capacity, should result in the increased retention of lifeguards.”

The two-year agreement will cost the city $99,531.54 for the first year of services and $105,477 the second year. The first year service fee is reduced due to the amount of money the city has already spent on pool-related costs. The fees will be paid in three equal installments each year on May 15, June 15 and September 15.

The contract stipulates that the contractor, the YMCA, will keep all of the revenue from pool admission fees, group fees and rental fees. The city will get 50 percent of any excess revenue. It also states pools shall be open a minimum of seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day with the minimum operating hours of 1 to 5 p.m. Previously, the pools were closed on Sundays, and operating hours were 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It is unclear what the new hours will be.

The city’s three outdoor pools are located at 2131 Carolina Beach Road (Legion Stadium Pool), 410 S. 10th St. (Robert Strange Pool) and 750 Bess St. (Northside Pool). Admission is $1 for children and $2 for adults. There is also a splash pad at the Bess Street location that does not have admission fees and is not included in the contract.

The Wilmington City Council approved the agreement by a unanimous 7 – 0 vote.