The Augustus G. Brown swimming pool. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Augustus G. Brown swimming pool. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Board will decide on pools with extra time

One more year.

That is how much more time the Aquatics Board will have to decide on the future of who will run the city’s pools after the City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee approved the extension to June 2019 at the regular meeting Wednesday.

Aquatics Board Chair Max Mertz presented the board’s recommendations during the meeting and outlined what he believed still needed to be done before the board, as it stands right now, dissolves. The original plan for the board was to “sunset” in May after being together for three years. During the board’s regular meeting March 6, Parks & Recreation Director Kirk Duncan said he would recommend the original plan.

Mertz explained how there are four options for the board, two of which he said the board did not approve of. Mertz said dissolving of the board in May and leaving the board, as it is right now, were not good long-term positions.

While the board would stay the same during the extension period, the goal was to either become an “empowered” board, where it could hire and fire its own Aquatics Director, or find a third-party nonprofit to take over the city’s pools. Currently the city’s pools are run by the city’s Parks & Recreation department.

Finance Committee member Loren Jones did not find the third-party option acceptable based on what he has learned from the public.

“I think we would eliminate fear and controversy if we do not look at third-party options,” Jones said. “I think the biggest problem is the (board’s) success. People don’t want to see the board change.”

Mertz felt the third-party option was feasible because it would still allow a local board to be in control.

He believed the public might feel differently if there was more research done. The option of a YMCA taking over the pools was given. He said the YMCA option was detailed in his report because it gave the clearest example of what a third-party option would do. However, if another nonprofit made a good fit, it would work.

“We used the YMCA because it was widely available to do a deep dive to look into third-party,” Mertz said.

Mertz said he favored the third-party option, but research still needs to be done on all options.

“Obviously, there is a lot more vetting to be done,” Mertz said. “There is an education component to this. I think when we educate (the public) and show them what it means, they could change their thoughts. I think it is at least worth looking in to.”

Committee member Beth Weldon, who also worked with the Aquatics Board, said leaving all the options opened made the most sense and feels the extension is more than enough time to get issues resolved.

“I think all options are feasible,” she said.

Mertz also added he would like the city manager’s office, the city attorney and the Assembly to help in the matter as much as possible.

City Manager Rorie Watt felt the current establishment of the board is not a model that can last. However, Watt believes the extension is a good idea.

“I don’t object to the current model, but it is not a good model (for the future),” Watt said. “There can be organizational tension with this model, but completing the board’s due diligence is important. The (CBJ) Assembly will need to devote time to this topic.”


• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (center) walks with Alaska Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, and Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, into the Alaska House of Representatives chambers ahead of her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

Congresswoman says wins for Alaska’s fisheries and state’s economy occurring through collaboration.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, speaks in support of Senate concurrence on a version of an education bill passed by the Alaska House last week during a Senate floor discussion on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

Dunleavy schedules press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation.

A photo by Ben Huff being exhibited as part of his presentation at 6:30 p.m. at the Alaska State Museum. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Museum)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday in March

Both the state and city museums are celebrating 20 years of artistic… Continue reading

Goose Creek Correctional Center is seen in fall. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Corrections)
Alaska prison failed to provide adequate dental care to inmates, state investigator finds

Goose Creek Correctional Center has gone years without a hygienist, forcing patients to wait

Jirdes Winther Baxter chats with Wayne Bertholl during her 100th birthday celebration Saturday at the Juneau Yacht Club. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Jirdes Winther Baxter, last survivor of 1925 Nome serum run, celebrates 100th birthday in Juneau

Five generations of family, dozens of friends and a coalition of political leaders offer tributes.

The Safeway supermarket in Juneau, seen here Oct. 4, 2023, is among those in Alaska that might be sold if its parent company, Albertsons Companies Inc., merges with Kroger Co., the parent company of Fred Meyer. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, saying it could push prices higher

Eight states, not including Alaska, join lawsuit against parent companies of Fred Meyer and Safeway.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, Feb. 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read