Urbana, YMCA try new agreement to manage pool

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The Champaign Family YMCA is getting an early start selling summer passes to Urbana’s Municipal pool, after reaching a new agreement in which the YMCA will manage the pool’s daily operations.

The city has managed the pool since it first opened in the late 1960s, said Kerry Brugger, director of administration for Urbana. This year, the YMCA will take over the day-to-day operations, freeing up city staff spend more time on other duties throughout the summer, Brugger said.

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“It’s an importation operation for the community,” Brugger said. “Our idea was to focus the city’s attention more on our primary services which are public safety, police, fire, streets and all the things that run year round.”

The city sent out a request for proposal last year selected the YMCA over one other competitor. The agreement is good for one year, with an option for the city to renew if both sides agree. Prices will remain the same as last year, Brugger said.

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This kind of deal is not unusual, but it’s the first time it’s been tried in Urbana, said Paul Waldsmith CEO of the Champaign Family YMCA.

“There are a number of municipalities and YMCAs that have operating agreements, but it certainly doesn’t happen in every community,” Waldsmith said.

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The YMCA will be in charge of duties like hiring staff and managing schedules for employees, while city employees will continue to provide maintenance like lawn care and any repairs, for example. The YMCA will track hours for employees, as well as pool supplies and send the bill to the city at the end of each month. The YMCA will also continue to provide services like swim lessons and pool rentals.

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“We’re operating the pool as if we own it and trying to make good operating decisions,” Waldsmith said.

It may also provide more flexibility for children taking swim lessons, for example.

In the past, city staff began selling preseason passes in mid-May, Brugger said. The YMCA is already selling passes to get a head start on the upcoming season.

“For many individuals their access to a municipal pool may be their only access to swimming or outdoor water recreation,” Waldsmith said. “To me it doesn’t matter if it’s an impoverished community or a wealthy community. It’s a core service that many cities view as something they want to provide to their residents no different than the parks.”

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