After voting in 2017 to close all but three public pools, the Wichita City Council is now going in a different direction.
Under the new Aquatics Master Plan approved Tuesday, the city will renovate McAdams, College Hill, Aley, Harvest, Minisa and Orchard Pools; replace the pools at Boston, Linwood, Edgemoor and Evergreen parks with splash pads; and install splash pads at Harrison and Planeview.
The dates and hours of operation at public pools will also increase.
Vice Mayor Jeff Blubaugh raised concerns that only one of the pools included in the plan is located south of Kellogg, but of the three options before the council, it was the plan with the most public support.
"Based on the designs that I’ve seen that was displayed this morning, I think it would work for all the pools," said resident and community advocate Mary Dean, "including McAdams, which I’m a very stern supporter of."
Dean thanked the council and city planners for their "efforts to make this good for all of Wichita."
Council member Brandon Johnson, who represents the district where the historic McAdams Pool is located, celebrated the vote on social media, calling the decision "a win for Wichita." McAdams has been closed since early 2017.
Mayor Jeff Longwell pointed out that the process of developing a new aquatics plan for the city began in 2011. The decision to close all pools except for Aley, College Hill and Harvest — even with the later addition of $4 million to build a new pool in District 1 — was met with continued and vocal community pushback. The city cited low attendance and low revenues as a reason to consolidate its aquatics system.
Council member Bryan Frye said city staff found a way to operate pools "much more efficiently, which I believe will get us with the more hours, the more days, the more lessons, the more opportunities for play."
He said the designs for the pools will have "lasting impact for generations."
Construction will start this year, with some of the pools scheduled to be renovated and open in time for the 2020 swim season.