Marshalltown Aquatic Center ends staffing agreement with YMCA-YWCA

T-R FILE PHOTO The Marshalltown Family Aquatic Center, 212 Washington St., is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department. Since it opened in 2003, the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA has contracted with the city to provide lifeguards.

Citing cost savings of at least $15,000, the Marshalltown city council voted to terminate the agreement with the local YMCA-YWCA which provided lifeguards and performed other tasks at the aquatic center.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser told the council at Monday’s meeting the Y’s issues with providing enough lifeguards this past season motivated a review of the contract and to think of alternatives.

One option is the city to taking full control.

“We were told there would not be a shortage of lifeguards before the season,” Kinser said.

“Many people have not understood the relationship between the Y and the city for operations. The Y was not able to provide enough lifeguards for the facility to be fully staffed and operational numerous days in the 2018 season. The public was angry about this, and rightfully so. The city was left to work with upset customers and try to find solutions when we had no control. With the city in charge of all operations, the public can hold us accountable and we can work to find solutions.”

Y Aquatics Director Shelley Lechnir told the council the Y would not campaign to keep the agreement. However, she said trying to recruit lifeguards had been challenging some seasons due to extenuating circumstances. However, she also said the Y worked proactively and aggressively to resolve the issue. Additionally, the city’s insurer for the aquatic center told her the Y’s training program for lifeguards was exemplary.

Since the existing contract listed Oct. 15 as the date for notification of termination, the council voted to end the agreement.

However, they did leave the door open to re-negotiate the contact with the Y should they be unsuccessful in finding a Parks and Recreation director with aquatic center management skills and numerous certifications.

At-Large Councilor Leon Lamer told Kinser the city needed to speed up the search for a new director.

Kinser said the council’s decision on the contract would serve as motivation to make hiring a director a priority.

Kinser and city Human Resources Director Jill Petermeier have been serving as defacto Parks and Recreation director since the resignation of former director Anne Selness earlier this year.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com

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