After eight years of planning, surveying, discussing, voting, and discussing again, it looks as though most of the Wichita community swimming pools will remain open.
Who could have anticipated reaching an agreement on what to do with the city’s aging pools would take eight years? Well, actually it took just six years to reach an initial decision. In February 2017, the City council adopted an Aquatics Master Plan that called for the renovation of three swimming Pools, converting five pools to water playgrounds and creating two additional water playgrounds.
Of course it’s hard to please anyone, but the city’s Northeast community was particularly concerned about the closing of McAdams Pool. When the McAdams Pool Women Warriors, a group led by community activist Mary Dean, decided to take on the issues, the City Council may have underestimated their tenacity.
So, with the strong support of District One City Council member Brandon Johnson, where the McAdams Pool is located, the City’s Park staff was directed to look at additional aquatic options.
“Brandon got some of them to see how important that pool is to this community,” Dean said.
This month, the Parks Department Aquatics team has been presenting three new options at each of the district advisory boards.
The plans are:
Option 1: There would be three regional pools – a pool larger than a neighborhood pool, one updated neighborhood pool, and seven new splash pads.
Options 2: The City would build one major water park, update one neighborhood pool and install nine splash pads.
Option 3: The City would update six neighborhood pools and install six splash pads. The neighborhood pools would be: Ailey, Orchard, Minisa, McAdams, College Hill and Harvest Parks. Losing their pools would be Evergreen and Edgemoor.
The proposal also recommends increasing the number of hours pools are open for open swim from 30 hours per week to 52 hours per week.
Dean and the Women Warriors are reluctantly supporting Option 3. While their preference would have been Option 2 with the new super water park constructed at McAdams Park, it appears, Option 3, maintaining six neighborhood parks has the most support.
“It’s a win, but not the win we necessarily wanted,” said Dean.
Under Option 3, McAdams will have a pool instead of the splash pad approved when the last Master Plan was adopted in 2017.
Option 3 also calls for the renovation of the six neighborhood pools, with an option for a basic and/or an expanded renovation. Basic renovations will include infrastructure improvements to the pools, including new filter systems, repainting, some renovation and update to the pool building and a few upgrades to make the pool handicapped accessible.
The expanded renovation plans would add a few more bells and whistles to each pool. With some pools getting climbing walls, slides, basketball hoops and a zero-walk-in entry.
“I think it (Option 3) is a win for everybody,” said Dean.
McAdams neighborhood wasn’t the only neighborhood that wanted to save their pool, but they weren’t quite as vocal.
A vote on the new Aquatics Master Plan may come as early as March.