City plans to close public pools

WICHITA,Kan. (KSNW) – The fate of the city’s pools are at stake on Tuesday where council members will vote on which will close and which will stay open.

Currently, there are a few different proposals. Under the five pool plan, Aley, College Hill, Edgemoor, Evergreen and Harvest locations would stay open while water playgrounds would replace the five others. The one pool plan would only leave College Hill open, while all the others would be converted to water playgrounds. The three pool plan would keep Aley, College Hill and Harvest open and all other locations would become water playgrounds.

This is concerning for those that say closing any of the pools will impact kids across the city, including some with special needs.

“When I think back to my childhood and the childhood of many many people, summer is swimming,” said Marty Rothwell, the program director for Arc of Sedgwick County.

Marty works with kids and has been doing so for 35 years at the Arc of Sedgwick County. He says losing any of the pools would impact summer programs for all kids. Currently, the city of Wichita has nine public swimming pools. Tuesday the city will vote on whether to keep five, three, or one at the College Hill location but Marty says, that’s not enough.

“College Hill pool just wouldn’t be able to handle the numbers. If the general public was there and we brought a group of 200 kids it wouldn’t be safe so, we hope they keep a few of the pools open so we can still use that advantage over the summer,” explained Marty.

The alternative to these pools is something the city is calling water playgrounds or splash pads and they shoot water from the ground. These playgrounds are significantly cheaper, they don’t require lifeguards and they’re more accessible. Arc officials say if they close city pools they will have fewer locations where their kids can feel like other kids.

“For the last 30 years, Arc has had a relationship w the school district and the park Dept to be able to provide a lot of programs for people w disabilities and a large part of that is being able to use the pools throughout the city,” said Arc’s executive director, Kevin Fish.

The city does plan to set up a plan with the YMCA to provide vouchers for kids to swim at their locations. That cost is at $5,000. KSN will be following the story and keep you updated on the turnout.

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