Board discusses lifeguards at PPC pool


It was a standing room-only crowd for the Perryville Board of Aldermen meeting as two important issues were discussed at the August 1 meeting.
The first of which pertained to the Perry Park Center and its lifeguards as new rules are being discussed that would have the pool at the Perry Park Center open with its regular hours, except that from 5-8 a.m., the pool would be only accessible to swimmers 18 years and older, who would have a key fob to access the area.
The time would be considered an open swim with no lifeguards on duty.
“The original thought wasn’t to reduce hours,” Perryville City Administrator Brent Buerck said. “The idea came from our success with the after- hours weightlifting. That has been well received. The pool is one of, if not the most expensive thing the Park Center maintains.”
That idea was met with much concern from residents and current Park Center lifeguards alike. Many residents noted that the large majority of the swimmers who use the pool during those early morning hours are elderly, who are more susceptible to health-related accidents.
“You are looking at older people,” Alderman Curt Buerck said. “Anything can happen with them and I hate to say it like that, but it’s the way it is. I would like to see at least one if not two lifeguards on duty during that time, even if we have to reduce the hours of the pool.”
Buerck said that there are very limited swimmers during those early morning hours with 80 individual users during the month of May, 88 in June, and 75 in July. That comes out to approximately three percent of 3,000 members.
“It’s my belief that those aerobics classes can still happen when we have supervision between the hours of 8 a.m.-8p.m.,” Buerck said. “Those people before 8 a.m. can be people who feel comfortable swimming. They could use a buddy system and go in together and work to keep each other safe. As adults, we can have an option and the ability to choose.”
Buerck said that those more experienced lifeguards would be pulled to a shift where the pool is more populated with small children.

“Alderman Seth Amschler said that public safety should always be the first priority.
“I’ll speak on my past experience with the Fire Department in Cape Girardeau and Perryville,” he said. “When it comes to budgets, public safety is the first thing that gets cut because the department would say that a person was on call for 24 hours and ran four calls. In that line of work we get paid for what we might have to do. It doesn’t matter if we save thousands of dollars if we don’t keep everyone safe.
It was tossed around in the discussion to have a single lifeguard on duty during those early morning hours, Brent Buerck brought up a point.
“The worst thing we can do is to say we are going to have lifeguards during that time and then not have one and then something happen,” he said. “As a lady brought up earlier that was an $8 million lawsuit in St. Louis.”
After a lengthy discussion, it was determined that the issue would be tabled and the city would post the new rules on social media and around the Park Center and ask for feedback from those residents wish to give it.
The board also heard from multiple residents about the 1981 ordinance prohibiting fortunetelling. Many residents were cautious to allow those types of businesses in Perryville for what they might be able to prey on many citizens.
“Once we allow those businesses to enter into our town, where does it stop,” one resident said.
It was voted to keep the ordinance intact.
In other news, American Legion Commander Brian Brickhaus sent the city a written notice advising that, after more than 30 years, they were no longer interested in hosting the Mayfest carnival. Staff wants to discuss this matter with the Board and begin working with the Chamber on alternate locations which could ultimately require additional street closures. The process is right now in its early stages.