The Johnson County Park & Recreation District board got a sneak peek Wednesday at the swimming pool complex the district will begin operating next year.
Kenny Southwick, the interim superintendent for the Shawnee Mission School District, and project manager Duane Cash walked board members through plans for the almost $28 million aquatic center that the school district is building in Lenexa’s new city center.
The 53,000-square-foot center will sit across 87th Street from the Lenexa Recreation Center. It will include both a 50-meter competition pool and a 25-yard pool that could be used for training and non-competitive swimming, a diving well, seating for up to 1,500 competitors and spectators, locker rooms, concession areas and training facilities. It will also be connected to a two-story, 200-space parking garage to the west.
Cash, with ACI Boland Architects, said the building’s designs include plenty of glass to make the space more airy and avoid what he called the “claustrophobic” feel of many enclosed swimming pools. He said the glass also lets the public see what’s going on, which could increase interest.
“The building wants to be the heart of that community,” he said.
The aquatic center, expected to open in the summer of 2019, is chiefly designed to provide room for swim and diving meets for the school district’s five high schools, Southwick said. But he added that the center’s large and state-of-the-art space should attract events from outside the area.
“This is an issue to bring value to the community,” he said.
Under the terms of the district’s agreement, school officials will continue to own the building and be responsible for its upkeep. But the park district will oversee day-to-day operations, schedule events, hold swim and other exercise classes, and plan all other center programming, said Rhonda Barber, the park district’s superintendent of recreation.
Commissioner Steven Klika, who serves on both the Johnson County Commission and the park board, said that work will be key to make sure residents don’t feel the center is the sole domain of high school swim teams.
“We’ve got to give the perception that it is still very much still open to the rest of the community,” Klika said.
In other business, the board voted 6-2 to move ahead with plans to replace the dome, which is used to cover the Roeland Park Aquatic Center during the winter.
The dome suffered extensive damage last fall during a storm, forcing the pool to be closed until spring. The district’s insurance will cover a new dome, hopefully in time for next winter season. Wednesday’s vote was to formally file an insurance claim for the dome and pay the district’s $25,000 premium.
District officials have cautioned it could cost an additional $50,000 to $100,000 for repairs to electrical systems and to install new lighting in the dome on top of that.
The district’s contract to operate the Roeland Park pool expires in May 2019, and the district has voted not to extend it. That decision would turn operation of the pool back to the city, and city officials have not yet committed to continue operating the pool in future winters because of the high cost.
Board members Mike Pirner and Chris Carroll voted against replacing the dome, saying the district could end up spending thousands of dollars on a dome that is used only one more year and then abandoned.
But the majority supported the replacement, saying they wanted to live up to their commitments.
“We need to get them the dome, and if they don’t operate it beyond (next winter), that’s on them,” Commissioner Leslee Rivarola said.
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