Merriam residents who attended public meeting show support for new community center and pool; community survey next

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 in need of significant repair.

Merriam residents who attended a public meeting on the fate of the city’s community center and aquatic center support building new facilities for both.

The community center and the pool have been the subject of assessments that revealed serious structural and maintenance problems that demand attention in the near future. The city has formed a steering committee and hired consultants to help with the decision on how these problems should addressed. Earlier this month, Merriam residents were invited to a public meeting where they could weigh in on future amenities for both sites.

When asked how supportive they were of building a new community center in a new location and of building a new outdoor aquatic center, the results were highly in favor of new buildings. On a scale of 1 to 5, more than half rated their level of support a 5 for a new community center. On the same scale, more than two-thirds rated support at 5 for a new aquatic center.

“I don’t believe there is an option to do nothing,” assistant city administrator Chris Engel told the city council Monday. “We are already on the hook for millions of dollars to fix these facilities.”

“If you build a nice enough facility, people will come to use it,” said council member Jim Wymer.

“It’s about bringing people together to build better communities,” council member Nancy Hupp added.

Residents at the public meeting showed a preference for an indoor track, a multi-use gym, community meeting rooms, the art gallery and an indoor leisure pool. At the aquatic center, diving boards, zero-depth entry, lap lanes and slides all rated high.

A community survey open to all residents and a statistically valid survey of residents will be the next step before consultants are able to assemble the public comment, do a financial analysis and develop a facilities plan to present for review.

The report from the meeting is embedded below: