The City of Wichita Parks and Recreation Department will open their 2021 swim season on May 31 with six new and uniquely different state-of-the-art pools. For Wichita’s near-northeast community, the opening of the new McAfee Pool in McAdams Park is particularly special.
It was a pool that almost didn’t happen. Citing low attendance, the City of Wichita proposed closing the park’s old pool, and planned to replace it with a splash pad. That didn’t sit well with a group of Wichita activists, who became known as the McAdams Pool Women Warriors, who fought against the pool’s closing, and won. Instead of a splash pad, the community will celebrate a new state-of-the-art pool with a special day of grand opening activities on Sat., June 5.
Members of the community in selecting some of the elements. Students at three schools near McAdams selected between 14 different designs for the slide in the wadding pool. They narrowed the selection down to eight designs, but in the end, there was a three-way tie. Hill said he went to Larry Dennis, who was the McAdams Recreation Center’s long-time director, and asked him to make the final decision. The Eagle was his overwhelming choice.(Maybe the Eagle needs to be nicknamed “Larry” in Dennis’ honor.)
While the pool is a total rebuild, phase one of the project only included limited renovations of the “bath house.”
According to Hill, the bathhouse improvements include updated handicapped accessibility in the restrooms, and a new entry gate and entrance that allows you to go straight into the pools instead of having to go through the restrooms.
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The changing areas/locker rooms, which were open to the outside elements at the top, have been closed in. “With our Kansas weather, that (the opening) left the rooms open to all kinds of debris,” said Hill. “Now, they’ll be a lot cleaner.” MCAFEE POOL NAME
Special Grand Opening, Free Swim Day Planned for McAfee Pool
While the new McAfee Pool in McAdams Park will open with the rest of the City’s pools on May 31, a special opening celebration is planned specifically for McAfee on Sat., June 5, from 1 – 7 p.m. In addition to the traditional ribbon cutting and speeches, there will be an afternoon of free swim and
special activities. According to Brian Hill, City of Wichita aquatics director, there will be lots of activities and fun games, including a diving contest, biggest splash contest, races for the kids and safety demonstrations. “They’ll be something different for everyone to enjoy every 30 minutes,” said Hill.
This level of grand opening celebration is singular to McAfee Park, with the city wanting to do something special for the McAdams community and the McAdams Pool Women Warriors who fought to save the pool for their
neighborhood. “We really wanted to highlight what can happen when the citizens speak up and their government listens,” said Hill.
Last year, Councilmember Brandon Johnson surprised architect Charles McAfee when he announced the naming of the new pool as the Charles McAfee Pool. McAfee, a Wichita native and nationally acclaimed architect, was the designer of the previous pool and the bathhouse. For that reason, members of the community were particularly pleased that most of the original building was saved. McAfee joined with the McAdams Pool Women Warriors to help save the pool. Among many thigs, the Warriors cited how few Black children know how to swim, which leaves them susceptible to drowning. Eliminating a community-based pool would make it even harder for them to learn to swim, the Warriors said.