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Park Commission Mulls Family Changing Room at Heman Pool

The Park Commission talked about Heman Pool policies at Tuesday night's meeting.

Work on the should be complete by Thanksgiving, said Interim Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Ewald Winker at Tuesday's Park Commission meeting, where he gave a construction update on Flynn and Mooney Parks.

The playground equipment for Flynn Park has arrived in University City and is in storage until the site is ready for installation. The playground work has been delayed by construction going on at Flynn Park Elementary School.

Winker said Mooney Park is almost ready for installation of the playground equipment, but the equipment has yet to arrive. Last week, the contractor poured a lot of sidewalk and the playground concrete.

"The ironic thing is we have equipment for Flynn and we're not ready. And we don't have equipment for Mooney, and it looks like Mooney is going to be ready and we won't have the equipment," Winker said.

NEW FIREHOUSE LOCATION

The issue of the new firehouse site also came up at Tuesday's Park Commission meeting. The land at the intersection of Vernon and Westgate is owned by Washington University and is being given to University City. Some residents have complained about the site location, saying it's in a residential neighborhood and also in an area prone to flooding.

"I would like to believe that had the city thought this was a poor location, for one reason or another, it would have rejected the generous offer," said Andrea Riganti, Director of Community Development for University City.

FAMILY CHANGING ROOM AT THE POOL

The Park Commission took up the issue of creating a family changing room at the Heman Park Swimming Pool.

Resident Elsie Glickert endorsed creating a family changing room. "It’s badly needed," she said.

Board member Caryn St. Clair pointed out that the need is critical for families who have adult children with special needs. She said a mother cannot go into the restroom with her adult son and vice versa for a father and daughter.

St. Clair said the changing room issue hit home for her family this summer. She said her son brought her toddler granddaughters to the pool, but when they had to use the restroom he was at a loss of what to do.

"He didn't feel comfortable sending them in alone, and so he's looking around for someone that he recognizes to ask them to take his daughters into the restroom because he didn't want to take a 4-year-old into the restroom." St. Clair said the scenario also applies to mothers and sons.

“Certainly, we can take a look at it," Winker said.

FEE WAIVER FOR SPECIAL EVENTS REQUESTS

The Park Commission also looked at streamlining special events requests and reviewed the process at Tuesday's meeting.

Currently, if University City sponsors or co-sponsors an event at a University City park the organization or group is not required to pay certain fees for insurance, park use and security deposit. The fees depend on the size of the event. The costs go up when the event requires fields to be blocked out or use of the picnic pavilion and mobile stage.

For example the , the and had their fees waived because they were either sponsored or co-sponsored by the city. The fees for those events would have amounted to approximately $1,200.

"Did we make any money on the bike race?" asked board member Karen Dille. "No, we didn't make any money on that," Winker said. Fire and police crews were on hand for the event, but Park Commission members were unaware if they were paid or by whom.

Winker said the University City doesn't get many requests for non-city sponsored events because it is very costly.

Riganti noted that these events are economic generators for the city—people attending the events will spend money in University City on food and drinks.

Board President John Sweeney said the Park Commission doesn't want to insert itself in deciding whether or not people should pay—that's a city decision he said. Instead, he feels the Park Commission should be able to decide if the event is beneficial for the community and the parks.

The issue was tabled until the next meeting. "Let me see if I can get more information. I’d like to know what the procedure is. There may not be one. But I'll let you know if there is or isn't," Council Liaison Lynn Ricci said.

St. Clair said it's good to bring some transparency to the process.

"I do strongly want to put the Park Commission in this process somewhere."

HEMAN POOL POLICIES

In July, the Park Commission reached out to more than a dozen neighboring municipalities about their pool procedures.

University City asked the participating municipalities the following questions:

  • Do you allow daily admission patrons in-and-out pool privileges?
  • Do you play music during public swim?
  • Do you allow patrons in the pool area without swim attire?
  • Do you enforce use of swim diapers by parents?

Survey results:

  • 80 percent allow in-and-out privileges
  • 86 percent play music
  • Municipalities have different rules
  • Responses varied

"We don't go to the pool to listen to music...we go to swim, socialize, sunbathe and to have fun," said Jen Jensen in a letter read by Resident Elsie Glickert, who also complained that music being played is "raunchy."

Currently, during swim season, Heman Pool has music days and non-days. Monday, Wednesday Friday and Sunday are non-music days, while Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are music days.

"I've been at the pool all my life," Glickert said. "It is noise pollution and should not be there. "

The music comes from a radio that is in a locked room, and the station is oldies said Recreation Superintendent Lynda Euell-Taylor.

St. Clair was in favor of music at the pool. She said it's not so loud that lifeguards can't hear the children. And she added the music played is oldies, not raunchy music.

The board voted unanimously to allow in-and-out privileges at the pool for daily admission patrons. That means a person can leave the pool complex for several hours and return to the pool without paying a re-entry fee.

The board vote on continuing the current practice of music days and non-days did not pass at Tuesday's meeting.

"That one is not going to go for right now," Sweeney said. He said the music issue was still an open issue and will be discussed at a future meeting.

The board voted to continue maintaining practice of allowing patrons into the facility with paid admission or car swipe, and that patrons entering pool must have proper swim attire.

The board voted unanimously to enforce swim diaper use by parents.

DRIVING RANGE LIGHTS

Winker said he and City Manager Lehman Walker met with the landscape architect for the Ruth Park Driving Range a couple of weeks ago and the architect, "was given a larger scope, maybe looking at different things to do at the driving range rather than just planting bushes."

"Hopefully by November something he's (architect) going to come here to present whatever his findings are," Winker said.

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