Merriam faced with needed repairs at aquatic center in addition to community center

The Merriam Aquatic Center is filled with water and nearly ready to go for the 2015 season. Repairs, however, are needed in the future for the pools.
The Merriam Aquatic Center is filled with water and nearly ready to go for the 2015 season. Repairs, however, are needed in the future for the pools.

The Merriam Community Center is not the only community asset that will need attention – and money – in the coming years.

This week the Merriam City Council not only heard that the community center needs significant upgrades to keep it operating, but that the city’s aquatic center also must be put on the agenda for repairs. The main tank at the pool is 30 years old and the expected lifespan runs from 30 to 40 years for the pool tanks.

The filtration system also is deteriorating due to age and needs to be replaced in the near future. The system also is outdated and should have separate filtering systems for each of the three pool tanks, according to a report delivered by Larkin Aquatics. The inspection of the aquatic center was completed in 2014, but not in time for its recommendations to be adopted into the capital improvement budget cycle last year.

In addition to the long list of repairs and maintenance upgrades, the city also was told that the bathhouse and the wading pool are not ADA compliant. The bathhouse renovation was among the more expensive of the renovations, estimated as high as $500,000 while replacing the pool basin could run more than $2 million. Replacing the filtration system was estimated up to $100,000.

Merriam Parks and Recreation Director Anna Slocum said the pool now draws about 500 people on a busy day, but in its peak years would have had up to 1,500 per day. A policy was lifted last year that discouraged non-resident use, but many surrounding communities have newer pools with more features that people are looking for, Slocum said. We just have an Olympic-size pool, she said, “children get bored with it.”

“This is about competition for recreational dollars,” said Councilor Nancy Hupp. City Administrator Phil Lammers also pointed out the drop in the number of students in Shawnee Mission schools over the lifespan of the pool.