Health and Safety Issues Bringing Changes at City Pools - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/28/04

Health and Safety Issues Bringing Changes at City Pools

The Lubbock Parks and Recreation Department calls it a "difference in management style." After letting a private company run its pools this summer, it was clear the city could do a better job. Randy Truesdell with Parks & Recreation says, "There was an issue with one of their employees that was actually playing with fireworks at one of the pools which is against the city ordinance and started a small fire." That incident is just one of several reasons the City of Lubbock is not satisfied with the management of its four public swimming pools (Clapp, Maxey, Montelongo and Mae Simmons).

For the first time, the city privatized or contracted out its pool management this summer. They only got one bid from a Georgia company called "U.S.A. Pools." All references checked out, so the city gave it a shot. Truesdell says, "We tried it and we feel like we can do a better job, so we're going to do it that way."

So what did U.S.A. Pools do wrong? For starters, they didn't meet the city's standards for health and safety issues. Pools were not properly vacuumed, algae problems were found, and there were either extremely high levels of chlorine or no chlorine at all. Truesdell says, "With the sunshine and clear days, chlorine can dissipate and you have to check it often to make sure chlorine is there and the water is sterilized."

Truesdell says when problems were brought to U.S.A. Pools' attention, they were taken care of but the city also cited service issues with the company: employees arriving late, opening late, inability of lifeguards to control patrons, and communication issues with lifeguards who did not speak English or Spanish, but Polish and Russian. Truesdell says, "Although they were qualified to be lifeguards, the communication skills weren't what we'd like to see when people deal with the public."

When it comes to problems with documentation: daily chemical logs, party reports, accident reports, Truesdell stops short of criticising U.S.A. Pools.  Instead, he simply states the city can do it better, saying "We felt like we would be more diligent with some of those things."

NewsChannel 11 tried to get a comment from U.S.A. Pools Tuesday. Their local manager refused to comment and directed us to their corporate offices. We left several messages there, but have yet to get a phone call back.

The city tells NewsChannel 11 it will cost the city the same amount of money to run city pools itself.

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