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Government

City Of Wichita Mulling Options For Swimming Pools

minisa_park_pool.jpg
City of Wichita
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The swimming pool at Minisa Park.

The Wichita City Council is now considering three options for the future of its pools under the wide-ranging Aquatics Master Plan released earlier this year.

The Department of Park and Recreation is recommending an option that would convert four out of 10 city pools into water playgrounds: Boston, Linwood, McAdams and Orchard would have splash pads by 2023. College Hill, Aley, Edgmoor, Evergreen and Harvest would remain in operation as swimming pools.

The city is also considering partnering with the local YMCA and the USD 259 school district to take advantage of their facilities, something council member James Clendenin says would benefit south Wichita in particular.

“I really think that we can work partnerships with people," he said during a workshop Tuesday. "Those pools, instead of one central pool, we've got however many branches, and free memberships available for people who can't afford them.”

The latest update on the city’s seven-year, $18 million Aquatics Master Plan would close the McAdams pool earlier than anticipated. When the plan was first outlined in March, the McAdams pool would be closed and converted to a water playground sometime after the 2019 season. Under the new forecast, it would close sometime in 2017.

Council Member Lavonta Williams, whose district includes McAdams Park, says if the pool does close early, residents there won’t have any water amenity for at least two years. Nearby Edgmoor pool closed in 2012 for maintenance issues.

“I think at one point we have McAdams staying open one more year in the original," Williams said. "Now to say it does not open, is going to be a blow.”

City manager Robert Layton says the McAdams pool has consistently been an underperformer in the city’s aquatics systems.

"I think when we had talked about extending it for another year, we had hoped the community support that had been expressed was going to yield greater results," he said. "And even with some subsidies that were provided at previous swim system, we were not able to see any significant change in attendance at that pool.”

City data shows the McAdams pool had fewer than 4,000 attendees in the 2016 season, and made less than $6,000 in revenue.

Council member Janet Miller says the discussion over the Aquatics Master Plan raises the question of whether the city wants to provide outdoor pools as a core city service.

“I think it sounds to me like we have a big philosophical divide over whether or not the city should provide swimming pools, and maybe this conversation is never going to progress anywhere until we decide that or not," she said.

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Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx.

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