New company to manage city pool

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The Sealy City Council is moving forward with a new company – Katy-based Aquatico Pool Management – to oversee the swimming pool in Cryan Park.

The decision was made last week following a dispute over insurance with the YMCA of Greater Houston, which previously managed the pool.

The Irene LaBlanc swimming pool is scheduled to open to the public May 26.

Director of Planning and Community Development Warren Escovy said Aquatico will train, hire and manage lifeguards and cover their insurance. The management company will not take money or handle concessions; that’s the responsibility of the city, Escovy said. The cost to the city is about $36,280, Escovy said, but that could change if hours of operation are altered.

City officials are proposing that the pool will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

“It’s a possibility we could look at offering swim lessons toward the end of the summer, but with this time frame, I just don’t see that happening,” Escovy said.

Jeff Seabolt, CEO of Aquatico, said his staff will be responsible for taking head counts to ensure that their numbers match up with the money that comes in.

“We are getting staffed up and ready, and we did just pick up [a contract with] Jordan Ranch down the street,” he said. “I have some guards who can move back and forth.”

The company, which has 400 lifeguards and manages 45 properties, has been in business for a decade, Seabolt added.

“We’re honored to take on this contract,” he said. “My main goal is to make sure these facilities stay safe.”

Jobs will be advertised locally, and Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma said she already has been approached by lifeguards who worked for the Y who are interested in returning to the Sealy pool this summer.

“We’re a fun team to work with as long as everybody is doing their job,” Seabolt said.

Officials with the YMCA of Greater Houston issued a press release last week explaining their decision to sever ties with the city.

“At this point, we are not able to move forward contractually with the city of Sealy and management of the city pool,” said District Executive Greg Coop. “We have been in discussion regarding indemnification and insurance, and from our perspective, we cannot accept increased exposure. We have been advised not to sign the current agreement the city has proposed. This is not about fees. We agreed early in the conversation to accept lower management fees to help the city due to the current financial situation. We plan to continue offering sports and after-school programs, and will focus on improving the quality of our offerings.”

Councilman Chris Noack expressed concern that city officials knew in mid-April that the YMCA contract would be terminated but council was not notified until May.

In other matters during the May 8 meeting:

•The city’s financial adviser reviewed a proposal to issue certificates of obligation in an amount not to exceed $12 million. A copy of the presentation is posted at sealynews.com. The council unanimously approved the resolution, and the financial adviser confirmed for Mayor Janice Whitehead that if the council authorizes a notice of intention and later decides not to go forward with issuing the COs, they have no legal obligation. Notice of the issuance is expected to be posted in July.

•Grant Rabon of NewGen Strategies & Solutions addressed the council about plans for a utility rate study. Discussion is ongoing about potential impact fees for new development.

•The council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for maintenance and operation of continuous highway lighting systems within the city.

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