Consultants hired to study Overland Park’s parks and recreation facilities think the city needs to close its neighborhood pools in favor of three amenity-rich regional pools. The three aquatic centers would be built by expanding and improving Young’s and Tomahawk pools and building a new one in southern Overland Park. The consultants also think the city should build a new recreation center in the south. Now it’s time for residents to weigh in.
The city will conduct a public meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Matt Ross Community Center to discuss preliminary recommendations, released last week, that are intended for the city’s first Parks Master Plan.
The consultants recommend that Roe Pool, on 104th Street and Roe Avenue, be closed down in one to two years and that Marty Pool, on 74th Street and Conser Avenue, be shut down in three to five years. Bluejacket and Stonegate pools would be closed when their usefulness ends in 10 to 20 years.
In their place would be three larger pools:
Young’s Pool at 77th Street and Antioch Road would be turned into a regional pool with a focus on state-of-the-art competitive and lap swimming. The children’s pool would be improved with recreational amenities.
Tomahawk Ridge Aquatic Center on 119th Street would be renovated and expanded with more recreational amenities, such as a larger children’s area, multiple slides, a lazy river and possibly a “Flow Rider,” which is a type of surfing amenity.
A new regional aquatic center would be built on a site south of 151st Street with recreational amenities such as a zero-depth entry pool, slides and a lazy river.
The consultants also recommended that the city build a recreation center with an indoor pool at the same location as the new outdoor pool.
Residents can learn more about the recommendations at the meeting and offer input to city officials.
“Overland Park is growing fast,” said Keith Gooch, a senior planner for the city. “The Parks Master Plan is our way of making sure we focus on the different needs of the different areas of the entire city. For some residents, pools are a big concern, for others it might be recreational facilities.”
Possible pool closings, the most explosive issues, are already upsetting residents.
Malinda Sutton of Overland Park has been taking her three children to Roe Pool for several years and fervently wishes the city would keep it open.
Roe Pool serves the smallest population of all the facilities, does not have amenities to attract families with children and has severe maintenance issues, consultants from Ballard King & Associates stated in its study.
Sutton is frustrated because she thinks the main reason the pool is underused is that there isn’t proper promotion for it. There isn’t a sign for the pool on Roe or even a sign in the Roe Park indicating its presence, she said.
“Instead of shutting it down, they should be maintaining it,” Sutton said. “It’s the perfect community pool for people who just want a peaceful, calm swim. The pool is always immaculate and the bathrooms are clean.”
Gooch said he understood the concerns.
“There are a lot of pools at the end of their useful timeframe, and the city doesn’t have an unlimited budget,” he said. “There are several pools up north, so if these (recommendations) do pass, we want to make sure every resident can get to a pool fairly easily.”
Residents who cannot attend the meeting Thursday evening will still have an opportunity to offer their two cents in an online survey. Gooch also encourages anyone with concerns to call him at 913-895-6181.
A final draft of the Parks Master Plan should be ready for City Council approval in October.