Roe Pool is closing and its adjacent park will receive a makeover.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
The city last week sent out a letter to residents in the Roe Park area informing them the much beloved neighborhood pool will be closed after summer 2015 and decommissioned in two years.
The letter pointed out that after a detailed analysis of the pool, the final draft of the city’s Comprehensive Park System Master Plan recommended the closure.
“Over the years, during discussion with City Council committees, we have typically said that we would operate Roe Pool as long as possible, barring any significant failure of its mechanical systems or infrastructure, including the pool itself, pool deck and building,” it stated. “Based on the current conditions of the concrete, operating equipment and continual problems with the sewer line at the pool, it is our plan to close and decommission Roe Pool following the 2015 swim season.”
The fate of Roe Pool has been tumultuous during the past couple of years.
The city held numerous public meetings about the future of the pool, in which several residents expressed their desire to keep it open.
But ultimately, the city decided the aging pool didn’t have enough amenities or attendance to justify the high cost of running it.
Receiving the letter with the official closing date was the final nail on the coffin for Roe Pool advocates living nearby.
“It’s a shame and I’m so disappointed,” said Malinda Sutton, an Overland Park mom. “I love the concept of a neighborhood pool because it’s peaceful and perfect for watching my young children. I don’t want to take my kids to a pool where there’s going to be hundreds of people around.”
The city is moving forward with plans to reinvest in Roe Park, by enhancing its appearance and facilities. The city council on Monday night approved a contract with the firm Bowman Bowman Novick to begin the preliminary phase of developing a master plan for the decommissioning of Roe Pool and redevelopment of Roe Park.
Greg Ruether, director of parks services, told the council that because of the park’s size, location and amount of use, the city felt it was important the area be revitalized.
People from all over the city go there to play softball, walk the trail and watch their kids play on the playground, he said.
“Roe Park has become a park of destination,” he said. “We want to see improvements that neighbors and other residents can enjoy. We want it to be more of a community park than a neighborhood one.”
Ruether also told the council that the city intends to hold several public meetings and public forums to give residents the chance to voice their ideas and keep up-to-date with the city’s plan.
Sutton said regardless of the past, she hopes at least something positive comes out of the park improvements.
“I’d like to see them put in a fun, new playground,” she said. “They definitely need to replace the bathrooms as well. That would be nice.”