MARYVILLE, Mo. — Something’s going to have to be done.
That was the explicit message Maryville Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Stubblefield sent to City Council members Monday night about the city’s aquatic center. The pool, Stubblefield said, is entering its 26th summer, right around the time when modern facilities start to move past the repair-or-replace break-even point.
“We’re living on borrowed time,” Stubblefield told the council while presenting MPR’s annual report. “I need some wood (to knock on), because the only problem we’ve had recently is that we’ve had too much water in the pool with all the rain. It’s holding water, so all the pumps and everything are working fine. But, yeah, we’re living on borrowed time.”
The pool, built in 1993, underwent significant repairs last year, and had to close early because of damage to a pump.
For now, though, the issue remains on the horizon, but one Stubblefield cautions will need to be dealt with soon.
“There will come a day, a day very soon, that this facility will (not be) worthy of the investment of the repairs needed,” he wrote in the annual report. “The Park Board will have to make a decision to ask the Citizens of Maryville what is important to them and how to proceed.”
First, Stubblefield said, MPR needs a comprehensive vision for the future: a master plan that has been his top priority since he took over operations in September.
In that time, Stubblefield has seemingly been playing whack-a-mole with mini-crises that have popped up, resulting in a revamp of the organization’s structure and leadership. Now that things are more settled, the master plan is back at the top of the to-do list.
MPR will work with a consultant and plans to coordinate with Northwest Missouri State University to gather data to help develop priorities for new facilities, renovations to existing ones, amenities and program updates. After that, the board will work through the specifics to work toward over the next several years.
Attendance is up and most parks are in great shape, according to MPR’s FY2019 annual report.
Overall attendance at MPR facilities was up 3.4 percent during the last fiscal year, a total of more than 2,200 more patrons than the year prior. Participation in MPR programs in general continues to fall, however, for both adults and youth: from a little over 5,500 adults last year to around 5,100 this year, and from about 2,500 youth participants last year to somewhere around 2,400 this year.
Those trends, Stubblefield said, are nationwide as more and more youth are playing in competitive or travel leagues, and parents follow along.
Maryville’s 10 parks received positive evaluations, with only a few issues noted for possible future improvement targets.
At Donaldson-Westside Park, the largest in town, the report notes that the infields of the baseball/softball fields need to be laser leveled to reduce “ponding” when it rains.
“The infield mix, lack of shade structures, parking lot, lights for soccer fields and updated bleachers (throughout all fields) also need to be addressed,” the report said of the 40-acre park that includes two shelters, a playground, a youth football field, an amphitheater, various youth-sized soccer fields, 4 lighted baseball/softball fields, concessions, restrooms and a maintenance facility.
Beal Park, the next largest park, was also flagged for some potential future overhauls. The tennis courts need a “complete overhaul,” and the fields and bleachers are in the same boat as those at Donaldson-Westside, the report noted.
The Maryville Community Center, built in 2003, is “basically in good shape but a lot of the mechanical equipment is original and is not efficient and aging,” the report said. “The parking lot needs major repairs along with the drainage.”
Other park notes
- The parks board reorganized at its meeting last week. Tim Conn was elected president, Jeff Ferguson was elected vice president, and DeAnn Davison remains secretary.
- Board member Megan Dennis resigned because she is leaving the area. Stubblefield said the board will open up applications for a replacement soon.
*This story has been edited to correctly list Jeff Ferguson, not Brian Smail, as the new vice president of the parks board.