Shawnee Mission plans to move aquatic center from SM South to Lenexa

District administrators say the SM South stadium needs to be shored up.
SM South is no longer the planned location for the school district’s new natatorium.

SM East swim fans may end up having to make a bit further of a hike to attend meets at the new Shawnee Mission aquatic center — but district officials say a new plan to locate the center in Lenexa instead of on the SM South campus could save the district millions.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson announced at last week’s Board of Education meeting that the district was no longer pursuing plans to build the facility at SM South and was moving forward with a new plan to build the facility near Lenexa’s Civic Center project, which is located near 87th Street Parkway and Penrose Lane.

“Our conversation solely right now in relation to the aquatic center is with the city of Lenexa in relation to that location,” “It’s full steam ahead for us in relation to that location. We’re excited about the possibility of the partnership.”

One of the main drivers of the change in plans, Hinson told the board, was that Lenexa had agreed in principle to donate the land for the center.

Hinson said after the meeting that Lenexa officials had reached out to the district in the first quarter of the year about the possibility of bringing the project to their city. While the district does not have an appraised value on the donated land at this point, Hinson said Lenexa had also agreed to build much of the parking structure for the facility.

“It’s a significant cost savings for us in order for that to happen,” Hinson said. “Anytime we can save potentially millions of dollars in the construction of a facility like this, we’re really going to listen.”

The new plan is a marked departure from the information communicated to district patrons ahead of the January vote on the $223 million bond issue that will pay for the new swimming complex. But, said Hinson, he’s heard no significant concerns from SM South area patrons about the change in plans.

“As we expressed here are the facts and here’s what’s going on, we’ve heard from some residents around South who were concerned about the aquatic center being there because of Top Golf and traffic, and parking as well,” Hinson said. “We’ve tried to listen intently to people and say we’re listening to your concerns about traffic, we’ve got the chance to save maybe millions of dollars. We think that’s just being good stewards of the money.”