Opinion Columns & Blogs

Wichita needs to treat its swimming pools equally

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On Oct. 23, the Wichita City Council conducted a workshop to consider proposed changes to the Aquatics Master Plan.

In the workshop, staff presented the council three scenarios for altering the current Aquatics Master Plan for our city. During a break in the meeting, we were told by City Manager Robert Layton that he would be recommending Scenario 3, which simply adds some “spit and polish” to six current city pools and calls it good. No new pools to begin replacing our aging neighborhood pools. No new pool in District 1. No new pools in Wichita period.

To say that our group of McAdams pool organizers were disappointed is a vast understatement, and we were not shy in showing it. We wish to make the following points.

▪ First, we note that in August 2017 the council added 4 million dollars to the city’s capital budget for a new pool in District 1. This made a total of $22 million over 10 years for three new pools, the new pool in District 1 and adding some splashpads.

▪ Then several months ago, the council discussed where in District 1 to place the new pool. After listening to citizen input for two-and-a-half hours — most favoring the McAdams Park location — the decision was to indefinitely “table” the issue.

▪ Significantly, Scenario 3 (which Manager Layton and Mayor Jeff Longwell appear to prefer), spends only $12 million of the $22 million currently in the capital budget for pools. Where does the other $10 million go? To a baseball stadium, maybe?

▪ Because the improvements in Scenario 3 are expensive half-measures, and the pools that would receive the improvements are expected to last only another six to 10 years, this passes the hard decisions on to future city leaders.

▪ We support Scenario 1, which is closer to the current Aquatics Master Plan. It treats the Harvest, Aley, and District 1 (McAdams) neighborhood pools equally, with $4 million each. It also adds funding for serious repairs to the College Hill pool.

▪ We fully expect the City Council to follow through with at least $4 million for a new pool in District 1 (McAdams Park), as promised in 2017. One with the design and amenities that meet today’s standards for recreation and entertainment. Water and a diving board no longer cut it.

Finally, going forward with Scenario 3 would be yet another example of the City Council extracting quality of life elements from neighborhoods that ring the city center, while expending vast amounts of tax dollars in the suburbs and downtown.

McAdams Pool Organizers: Elizabeth Bishop, Karen Cayce, Vernette Chance, Rhonda Cox, Mary Dean, Adrienne DeGraftenreed, Cindi Donaldson, Gail Finney, Lisa Vayda, Donna Wirth