Winning Over Residents
As in many communities throughout the U.S., city officials in Salina, Kan., faced a dilemma in 2008 over what to do with the aging outdoor swimming pool.
Each year, the pool required more time and resources to open for crowds of fewer and fewer people. The pool also required a larger subsidy from the general fund just to cover operations and maintenance expenses.
The swimming pool was described by most residents as old, outdated and just plain boring.
Although the pool had become a real problem over the years, there appeared to be little public interest in funding a solution. Two sales-tax measures to replace the pool had failed in recent years, so city officials knew that a more appealing planning and funding effort would have to be developed before the public would buy into the project.
Ready For A Change
Salina, located in central Kansas, has a population of approximately 50,000. As one of the largest cities in the region, it has long been a retail hub with a solid sales-tax base.
Salina also has a rich variety of cultural and recreational amenities that make it a destination for people throughout the region.
In recent years, other communities--some smaller than Salina--had replaced aging swimming pool facilities with modern aquatic centers. These facilities included amenities that have become standard in recent years, such as zero-depth entries and shallow-water recreation with various water-play elements.
Compared to Salina’s 50-year-old rectangular-shaped, deep-water pool, the surrounding pools were worlds away in excitement as well as program offerings. As a result, residents were traveling to the other communities to enjoy their pools.
City staff members and elected officials in Salina decided it was time to change the situation and resume their place as a destination for such recreational amenities.
In the summer of 2008, the city hired Aquatic Design Consultants Inc. to help plan, promote, design, and construct a modern aquatic facility. Straub Construction was hired to complete the construction of the project. The new facility would have to meet the needs and expectations of all residents, regardless of age and swimming abilities.
One of the first steps was to develop a list of aquatic-programming needs and facility-performance goals unique to Salina:
• It must satisfy all traditional municipal programming needs, such as swimming lessons, swim-team practices and meets, lap swimming, and water exercising like aqua aerobics, water weights and water-walking.
• It must provide recreation activities for all age groups from toddlers to the community’s valued senior citizens.
• The facility must not only meet ADA requirements, but actually be designed to make ease of use truly equal for all people, regardless of abilities.
• It must operate close to revenue neutral by covering its annual operations and maintenance expenses through revenues generated by the facility.
• It must serve as a regional draw to make the waterpark “the place to be.”
• It must be promoted within the community to ensure passage of the sales-tax measure for capital funding.
• It must be constructed of high-quality materials and equipment for efficient long-term use and reliability.
• It must be clean, safe, user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
To involve the public in the planning process, a project Web site was developed and updated at each stage of planning, up to the sales-tax measure vote. The Web site initially included an online survey form that allowed the community residents to give their opinions on the types of desired amenities.
Over 3,000 people responded to the survey, which not only helped customize the facility, but also facilitated participation and buy-in from the public from the start. This was a huge factor in the ultimate success of the vote.
Named for its proximity to Kenwood Park, Kenwood Cove opened in June 2010, and averages about 2,100 visitors each day. The facility includes the following amenities:
• Long, meandering river
• Raging river ride
• Wave pool
• High-tower slide complex with five slides
• Themed “kiddie play” island with interactive spray/play features
• Floating obstacle course
• Adult relaxation area
• Beach-style entries
• Lap/competition pool
• High and low diving
• Themed landscaping
• Shade structures
• Full concessions
• Rental cabanas
• Family changing rooms
• State-of-the-art water treatment and filtration systems.
To view the facility, visit www.KenwoodCove.com.
Kevin McElyea, PE, is a principal and lead aquatic designer with Aquatic Design Consultants Inc. in Louisburg, Kan. He can be reached at kevinm@WaterParkTeam.com. For more information on the firm, visit www.WaterParkTeam.com.