The Shawnee Mission School District is negotiating with Lenexa city officials to build an aquatic center in the growing Lenexa City Center.
The district had earlier indicated it wanted to place the state-of-the-art aquatics center — approved by voters as part of a $223 million bond issue earlier this year — near Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park.
But a presentation by Lenexa officials earlier this year changed the district staff’s mind, schools Superintendent Jim Hinson said Thursday at the district’s board meeting.
Hinson announced that the district now plans to build the aquatic center near the city’s future recreation center as part of the Lenexa Civic Center at 87th Street Parkway and Penrose Lane, just west of Renner Boulevard, in the Lenexa City Center.
He said the district is in negotiations with city officials, who have said they would donate the property.
“We don’t have an agreement in writing yet, but we’re making great progress,” Hinson said. “We think it’s a great location.”
Voters approved funding for a state-of-the-art aquatic center as part of the $223 million bond issue they approved in January. The aquatic center’s actual price tag has not yet been determined.
Hinson added after the meeting that the board may make a formal decision on locating the center as early as next month.
The aquatics center will feature a 50-meter competition pool and diving wells for use by each of the district’s five high schools, said district spokeswoman Leigh Anne Neal. The high schools currently all have swimming pools but they are not large enough to hold competitions larger than dual meets, she said. Those pools will remain for practice and smaller competitions.
Before the bond issue vote, district officials said the aquatics center would be at Shawnee Mission South.
One proposed location for the aquatics center had been at the district’s Shawnee Mission Environmental Science Laboratory — a 22-acre fenced site adjacent to the school at 107th street and Nall Avenue featuring prairie, woodlands, a pond and stream — at Shawnee Mission South.
Concerned parents started a protest petition last fall. Hinson announced at the December school board meeting that an architect’s report indicated the aquatics center could be constructed at the south end of the high school stadium, away from the environmental lab on the east side.
The report showed that the stadium at Shawnee Mission South could be renovated rather than torn down, allowing the aquatic center to be constructed adjacent to the stadium.
“This was always the preferred location,” district spokeswoman Leigh Anne Neal said at the time.