Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOX) – St. Charles officials are working to keep a promise made to residents who passed a tax increase measure last year.

City voters agreed to increasing the sales tax rate by a half cent, with one-third of the money going to parks improvements and the remainder to stormwater control projects.

At their meeting Tuesday night, the St. Charles City Council moved forward with the process of hiring contractors to undertake planned upgrades to aquatic centers at Wapelhorst and Blanchette Parks.

“They were getting to the point of being beyond their useful life,” explained Maralee Britton, director of parks and recreation. “They were costing us a lot of money to operate and we decided it was time to start looking towards the future.”

She pointed out this has been an important issue for St. Charles residents going back nearly a century.

“In 2017 we are now eighty years into aquatics,” Britton said. “So in 1937 the public first gave us the mandate ‘We need pools’.”

She calls it a quality-of-life issue for the up to 100,000 visitors who enjoy the pool activities each year.

Among the improvements coming to the Blanchette Park facility are three new water slides and a climbing wall that will allow swimmers to drop down more than 20-feet into the water.

At Wapelhorst, new features will include something called a Boomerango.

“It’s a two passenger ride in which you’re shot through a tube and up high one wall, then down the other wall and out. It’s quite remarkable,” Britton told KMOX News. “The Boomerango will sit next to the five-story speed slide, which will stay and is undergoing renovation this year.”

Money generated by the passage of Prop P will also be used for things like replacing six playgrounds as well as upgrading several athletic fields with improved lighting.

City leaders expect to award the construction contracts in July or August with an eye toward completion of all the upgrades by Memorial Day 2018.

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