Aquatics Board could dissolve in May

Parks and Recreation Director Kirk Duncan announces decision during Aquatics Board meeting

Aquatics Board Chair Max Mertz reviews a draft proposal at the Diamond Park Aquatic Center on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Richard McGrail | Juneau Empire)

In what seems like a surprise turn of events, the City and Borough of Juneau Aquatics Board found out what will most likely be its fate at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday.

 

Parks and Recreation Director Kirk Duncan said he has prepared a statement to give to the CBJ Assembly that will recommend the board to “sunset,” or expire, on May 28.

Board Chair Max Mertz was taken aback when Duncan made the announcement over the phone near the end of the meeting. Mertz said he was disappointed because of the time and work the board has put in since its inception in 2015.

“Our board has tried to be very transparent and open with the public, including during this process,” Mertz said in a phone conversation with the Empire Wednesday. “I think the board was surprised with what we consider the end of the process.”

If the board does dissolve in May, Mertz said, the pools will go back to being run by CBJ’s Parks and Recreation department.

This particular option was the first of four options outlined by the board over that last few weeks. The other three options included: extending the board; becoming an “empowered board,” which could handle hiring and firing of the Aquatics Director; and having a third-party like a YMCA take over the pools’ power.

The memo Duncan will be providing to the Assembly has still not been looked over by the board, Mertz said.

“The board would have appreciated having the time to interact with Mr. Duncan and the city manager’s office before being ent off,” Mertz said.

Tuesday’s meeting occured after public events and emails were taken into consideration over the last month. A Power Point presentation, along with outlines of each possible outcome of the pools — Augustus Brown Pool downtown and the Dimond Park Aquatic Center (DPAC) in the Mendenhall Valley — were part of the public events.

Mertz said he was pleased with the community’s response.

“People gave great input,” Mertz said. “I was pleased with how balanced the comments were. It was honest and excellent feedback.”

Mertz wanted to get input from fellow board members and most agreed that the board, as it stands, should either become an “empowered” board, or turn to the third-party option.

Board member Becky Monagle said she believed extending the board was the best option.

“We have to be able to dive a little deeper into the details so we know what to present (to the Assembly),” Monagle said.

The rest of the board mostly echoed those thoughts. Mertz believed being able to look into the third-party option during the extension of the board made the most sense.

“I think having a third-party offers protection,” Mertz said.

Mertz said the board will offer its own recommendation to give to the Finance Committee, Wednesday March 14. Even if the Assembly chooses to go in the direction of dissolving the board, Mertz believed it served its purpose.

“I think the board has done a good job worked very diligently,” Mertz said. “Beth Weldon, Assembly member and board member, said she was very pleased with how hard we worked. We worked very well together. We all have come from different background and covered different sectors of the community. As a result, I think the pools have benefited greatly.”


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


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