The new operators of the aquatic centre are struggling to get enough staff for the extended operating hours required by the Town Council last week.
Rob Heinjus, of the Adelaide based firm Casa Leisure, says he hopes permanent residents will show more interest in becoming lifeguards to make making the $19m facility work.
Around 12 of them are needed during the summer season, and three to four when only the indoor pool is in operation.
It’s hard to operate with itinerants such as backpackers or short-term visitors, he says.
The firm is complying with the current council contract which allows the closure of the outdoor pool on weekdays during the middle of the day, when patronage is low. The indoor pool is open daily from 6am to 7pm.
Under the present contract the outdoor 50 meter pool, on weekdays, is open from 6am to 9am and from 3pm to 7pm.
It is open from 9am to 7pm on weekends, public holidays and school holidays.
Councillors, supporting a motion by Cr Eli Melky, last Monday voted to keep also the 50m outdoor pool open all day, daily (from 6am weekdays, from 9am weekends and holidays).
Cr Melky concurred with Mayor Damien Ryan, who described the daily closure of the outdoor pool as “absolutely silly” and needing fixing, the sooner the better. Mayor Ryan, directing his comments to Council’s Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton, said he did not see it as his job to read every tender in detail. He was amazed about the hours and they had never been discussed in the council chamber.
The contract sum will now need to be modified to take account of the extra hours.
Mr Buxton estimated the additional cost at $60,000 p.a.
Mr Heinjus says in other regional centres, Year 11 and 12 and university students are happy to work on weekends and holidays, earning between $20 and $25 an hour.
But in Alice Springs it seems there is plenty of other work.
He says the firm will run a lifesaving course next month, free of charge to participants.
Another option would be a fly-in, fly-out arrangement for a limited period.
Photo: The indoor pool of the aquatic center (courtesy Town Council).