It hasn’t been easy managing the Roeland Park Aquatic Center lately, and residents will have a chance next week to advise the city on how to upgrade its pool complex.
Officials have been dealing with leaks, pump failures that temporarily closed the slide-and-catch pool, the collapse of two light poles, the closure of the whale slide in the children’s area and a delayed reinstallation of diving boards after one leak was fixed.
And in a blow to sports teams and individual athletes that need a pool in the winter, after a storm last fall heavily damaged the inflatable dome that allowed indoor swimming, the city decided against replacing it. They brought in the Water’s Edge Aquatic Design form to consult on long-term development of the aquatic center.
Dennis Mueller has been the swim team coach at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park for more than 20 years. For almost the entire time he’s been there, the city’s Aquatic Center was the only pool his team ever used.
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So last winter, Mueller and his team took it hard when the city and Johnson County announced to the public with only two weeks notice that the year-round pool would be closed because of damages to its dome.
“It was really devastating to us,” he said.
On June 1, the Roeland Park City Council said in a newsletter that the pool would be closing for the 2018-2019 winter as well. After conducting a cost analysis, it was determined that the cost of repairing the dome to meet recommended safety standards exceeded the budget for the winter.
“It was primarily a financial decision,” said Jennifer Jones-Lacy, Roeland Park’s finance director.
In the city’s most recent figures, the pool saw a total of 1,176 indoor users during the 2016 year and a total of 27,023 visits by those users.
The city detailed those problems — and other issues — in a letter to residents that was posted online.
To get community input, the city has posted an online survey and scheduled an open house on July 24 where residents can ask questions and offer their ideas on amenities and programming for the aquatic center.
The open house will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Roeland Park Community Center, 4850 Rosewood Drive. Computers will be available for people to take the online survey, which is posted at www.roelandpark.net through July 31.
The city and the Johnson County Park & Recreation District share funding of pool operations, but that agreement expires in May 2019 – another factor that figures into the study.
“As we continue to work on the current issues and look forward to making future improvements,” the letter said, “JCPRD and the city are committed to this facility and creating a fun and safe environment for our community to enjoy.”
City Administrator Keith Moody said by email that the city plans to work on a new management agreement with the county to cover the rest of next year and anticipates soliciting proposals for pool management starting in 2020.
“This all hinges upon the outcome of the pool analysis that Water’s Edge is working on currently,” he said.