Concerns about Swim Club to be addressed by panel
In response to a resident's concerns about the Crestwood Swim Club, Acting Mayor Richard Breeding will chair a committee that will address noise generated by the pool's public address system and other issues, such as hours of operation.
The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously last week to establish the committee, which will be comprised of residents who live near the pool, Crestwood Swim Club members and Public Works Director Jim Eckrich.
Breeding suggested the committee after Bali Court resident Carleen Reinhardt voiced concerns about the volume of the public address system, contending that her rights "were being totally abused by the Swim Club ...''
But former Ward 2 Alderman Gary Vincent, a Swim Club member, said the club is cognizant of nearby residents' concerns and is operating within the parameters of a conditional-use permit granted by the city.
In October 2001, the Board of Aldermen approved a CUP allowing the Swim Club to construct a new pool in a residential area adjacent to City Hall. The club's previous location at 1475 S. Sappington Road, owned by the Rosebrook Real Estate Co., was needed to provide additional parking for the Kohl's Department Store at the northwest corner of Watson and Sappington roads. THF Realty, which redeveloped the corner with tax-increment financing assistance, will be reimbursed for the $750,000 purchase of the Swim Club property through a sales tax levied on purchases at Kohl's. No TIF funds were used for the pool project.
Swim Club members built a new pool on a second parcel owned by Rosebrook Real Estate on Rayburn Avenue that previously was the site of two tennis courts. A CUP was needed so the club could proceed with its plans to construct the new pool, which opened in July 2003.
The next month, residents of Bali Court and Rosaire Drive, whose homes border the Swim Club, flooded aldermen with a litany of complaints about the club and asked the board to consider reducing the number of hours the pool can operate. One of those residents was Reinhardt, who told aldermen July 13 that the previous day she and her sister began "looking at facilities and nursing homes for my mother ... When I got home I obviously needed some quiet time and down time. Instead what I got was Crestwood Swim Club awards ceremony, complete with the PA (public address) system, a large, loud crowd ...''
The noise from the Swim Club was too loud outside, so she moved inside and turned the TV on, but she could still hear the PA system.
"So next I went to the basement with the TV on. Oh I eventually drowned out the PA system, but I also lost my quiet time,'' Reinhardt told aldermen. "That's when I suddenly realized my rights were being totally abused by the Swim Club and even ignored by some of the board members. I was a prisoner in my own home ...''
Reinhardt said she called "as many aldermen as I could because I wanted you to hear what we hear in our yards and homes ... What we'd like is help with negotiations so everyone can enjoy their summer. Can we discuss how to change or eliminate the PA system? Change or reduce pool hours or meets? Change or address the lack of visual and auditory buffers? How about alternating 10 o'clock weekend hours with 8 o'clock weekend hours so that we at least have some weekends to ourselves? How about six days a week vs. seven days a week? There are so many options that haven't been explored and it's only going to be through discussions and compromising that these issues are addressed and others are going to be resolved ...''
At one point she noted that Bali Court resident Hugh Mackay had suggested a committee be formed.
"... Just because the pool is following guidelines of the conditional-use permit doesn't make it right nor (does) it mean it can't be changed ...,'' Reinhardt said.
Breeding said, "Your committee idea is a good idea. I'll chair the committee and let's work with Mr. Eckrich and get a committee together ... We'll get some of your residents, some pool residents and I'll be the chair. I think that's a great idea.''
Aldermen voted unanimously to form the committee.
Vincent, who also is president of Rosebrook Real Estate Co., later said, "... Obviously I went through this process where we obtained our permits, etc., and I think Ms. Reinhardt essentially agrees that what we're doing now is in conformance with our permit and the ordinances that we received from the city of Crestwood. Essentially what the deal was when we moved the pool was that we would be able to continue operating our pool in essentially the same fashion as it operated approximately a hundred yards away after we moved so that the city and the developer could get the land on the Kohl's parking lot so that the Kohl's development could go forward.
"So the quid pro quo for us giving up that land was we'd get a new pool and we'd get to operate in essentially the manner that we were able to do before. All of those conditions are set forth in that ordinance. That's what we agreed to ... It seems to me rather unfair if the city wants to come back and change that agreement after they've got the Kohl's, they've got the property and they've essentially got their part of the bargain. Now I understand the residents' complaints about the noise and initially what happened is we put in a group of speakers and even before anybody complained, in fact, the first weekend we used them, we understood that they were not the correct speakers. We hired an expert to come in and look at them and that expert has worked with the city's expert to I guess to modify or implement a proper sound procedure. We put in brand-new speakers at the pool as we've been directed. We placed them where the experts said we should. If there's some modification in the noise volume, that can be adjusted, but it's impossible when you have a hundred kids up there to speak over them at a ceremony like we had last evening ...''
Vincent later continued, "... I would urge the board to consider our view of these facts to not alter the ordinance — not that I think you can — and finally I guess I would say that the proposal that Mr. Mackay made several years ago was to put members of the residents on the board of the Swim Club so that they essentially would have a say in operating it. Well, that's not going to happen. So we're not going to try that. Now we'll sit down and talk to the residents in a reasonable fashion, but we don't get that. What we get is people coming up here and trying to draw their aged grandmother into the argument. That has nothing to do with what's going on at Crestwood Swim Club and I resent the fact that people would draw that kind of a parallel. What we need to do — if we can — is to accommodate them within the confines of the ordinance and what's reasonable on both sides and we're willing to do that ...''
Resident Hank Straub said, "This Swim Club has been a problem for a long time. It's a very difficult one to solve. The way it's going now, the way Mr. Vincent's talking, you may have another lawsuit on your hands. I'd like to go back just a bit when you were trying to solve this problem for space for Kohl's and you had to have the Swim Club, you had an eminent domain I think, you might have spent $30,000 if I recall to see if you could get rid of the Swim Club. And it was found that it was deteriorating pretty badly. I was up here at one time and commented that the place you put the new Swim Club, you formerly had that tennis court and that was a total disgrace. It was rusted, torn down and everything and Mr. Vincent at the time who was an alderman said he didn't realize that. You don't get around your Swim Club very much, Mr. Vincent.''
Vincent yelled, "I never said that.''
Straub said, "I did. So there has to be consideration for these neighbors. There's no question about that, even though you have a contract and so forth, they got a pretty good deal on this whole thing, you got a brand-new Swim Club and I'd hate to be living there, but I certainly hope that the Swim Club will cooperate a little bit better than Mr. Vincent sounded.''