Shawnee Mission aquatic center will be built next to SM South stadium, avoiding environmental lab land

District administrators say the SM South stadium needs to be shored up.
The new aquatic center will be built on the south end of the  SM South stadium, which  needs to be shored up.

The new aquatic center for the Shawnee Mission School District will be built on the south end of the SM South stadium. Fear that the new center would be built on part of the land that is home to the Shawnee Mission Environmental Science Lab had threatened to generate some opposition to the district’s bond issue coming up for a vote in January.

Superintendent Jim Hinson announced Monday night that architects had come up with a plan that fits the aquatic center on the south end of the stadium, incorporating a new wellness center for district employees and students. The stadium, which had some structural concerns, can be repaired without being demolished, Hinson said, and will have a new outer skin so it will look new when refurbished.

A petition drive had started this fall to oppose placing the aquatic center on a section of the SMESL near the intersection of 107th and Nall. That petition gained more than 2,000 signatures. At that point the district had said a SM South site was preferred for the center because of its available land, but no specific spot at the campus had been chosen. Normally, the architectural studies would not have come until after funds were available from the bond issue. To settle the issue of the center’s location, the district paid to have an architect’s study done before the vote.

Hinson said Monday the architects had given the “green light” to the new location on the south end of the stadium, which is on the west side of the school. Wrapping the aquatic center into the stadium had been the district’s preferred option. Ballots for the $223 million bond issue, of which the aquatic center is just one part, are expected to arrive in mailboxes around Jan. 7. If approved, the bond issue will not result in a tax increase from current levels to support bond payments.