A city project 13 years in the making got its start Tuesday with a groundbreaking for planned upgrades to Fairground Pool.


Originally constructed 35 years ago, the pool and its structures have needed upgrades for some time. While the groundbreaking took place Tuesday, it will be up to the Mexico City Council on Monday to make a final decision on construction plans.


"It is not every day we get to break ground on a large municipal project in Mexico," Parks and Recreation Director Chad Shoemaker said. "We are very appreciative of all the support we had from the community, the council, the park board and all those who have a stake in this day happening."


Westport Pools of Maryland Heights is the design-build firm in charge of the project. What once was an eight-lane lap pool, diving pool and separate wading pool will be transformed into a zero-entry pool with updated aquatic features. There also will be more shaded areas and the multi-user bathhouse will be removed in favor of individual changing rooms next to the pool deck.


A draft final plan included four swim lanes down from six from a February draft presented in a public meeting. Public concerns over the lane reduction were taken into consideration and the final approved plan likely will have six lanes, Mexico Mayor Ayanna Shivers said.


Those present for the groundbreaking were Shivers and city council members Vicki Briggs, Chris Miller, Steve Haag, City Manager Bruce Slagle, the Mexico Park Board, Mexico Area Family YMCA Director Lori Brandow, Parks and Recreation staff, Community Development Director Rita Jackson, Public Works Director Kensey Russell, Economic Development Director Russell Runge and State Rep. Kent Haden, among others.


"It is an honor and a privilege to be serving as the Mayor during this exciting time in Mexico’s history," Shivers said. "The renovation phase began in 2007 and now we are going to break ground on a $3.5 million aquatic project. We are really excited about that."


She recognized Shoemaker for all the work he and his staff have put in for the past 13 years. Shivers also acknowledged Mexico residents for passing the local use tax ballot question. Without it, the pool project budget would have been cut to just over $1 million.


Council member Briggs served on the committee 35 years ago that had the first initiative to build a pool in Mexico.


"About 35 years ago, we opened our new pool," she said. "We passed a bond issue for $937,000. I remember we walked all over town, knocking on doors to get the bond issue passed for this pool."


Briggs was not expecting to be serving on the council when the pool would once again be a major construction project for the city.


"I thought, ’at least I don’t have to worry about voting on another pool,’" she said. "It certainly is an honor to be here. It is exciting to be here. We look forward to hearing children laughing and having a good time at our new pool."