SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The City of Shreveport has confirmed it intends to award the management contract for the city’s pools to an Atlanta-based pool management company, ending a relationship with the local non-profit that has operated the SPAR facilities for the past 12 years.
According to City of Shreveport Director of Communications Marquel Sennet, USA Management will manage and operate the city’s five pools when they open in a few weeks for the summer season.
Sennet said the $125,000 contract the city expects to award USA Management is the same amount awarded to Rock Solid Athletic Club last year, and that the city’s decision was based on the highest scoring applicant for the contract.
According to the notice Rock Solid Athletic Club CEO and founder Shelley McMillan says she got from the city, USA Management’s proposal came out on top as the most advantageous to the city, based on the selection criteria established in its request for proposals for this year’s contract.
McMillan says she was shocked to learn of the city’s decision.
“Why are we sending dollars outside of our community? Why aren’t we investing in our own, providing jobs here?”
Rock Solid partnered with the city in the wake of the 2009 Red River drownings, when six teenagers from two families drowned while trying to save a friend.
They created ‘Project Swim,’ providing free swim lessons to more than 18,000 people in an ongoing effort to prevent another tragedy. The organization had managed the city’s pools every summer since.
“Even if you don’t believe in what we’ve done, which I don’t know how anyone could have even looked at what we’ve done over a thirteen-year period and not have been moved by it.”
According to the USA Management website, the company provides “aquatic management” to cities, water parks, resorts, beaches, country clubs, HOA communities, apartments and hotels. It also provides lifeguard services and commercial pool construction. Lifeguard services include training and hiring. USA Management also offers swim lessons, but it is not clear whether they charge for them.
The city says SPAR is still in the beginning stages of preparing the contract. It is not clear when it is expected to be finalized, and the city did not respond to an NBC 6 inquiry asking what assurances the city has that USA Management will be ready to take over operations of the pools in less than a month, but they did say SPAR is conducting repairs at several pools and if the repairs are completed on time, they will open on schedule for the summer season.
According to the SPAR website, five SPAR pools will be open to the public from June 28 to July 28. After July 28, Southern Hills pool will be open on weekends only through Labor Day (Monday, September 2) from 1-5 p.m.
In the meantime, McMillian says her non-profit’s mission continues.
“We will continue at Rock Solid to use our voice, to use our resources and impact in any way that we possibly can. We’re not looking for dollar signs out of it. We just want to know that senseless deaths didn’t happen because we used our resources to ensure that.”