Future of winter operations at Roeland Park Aquatic Center murky as city, county debate dome repair costs

The Roeland Park Aquatic Center.
The Roeland Park Aquatic Center.

By Holly Cook

The cost of replacing Roeland Park Aquatic Center’s failed dome is covered by a Johnson County insurance policy, but the decision to have it replaced hinges on whether the city wants to move forward with year-round operation of the pool after the joint agreement between Roeland Park and the Johnson County Park and Recreation District ends in May 2019.

The mechanics needed to keep the dome over the aquatic center have failed multiple times in recent years.
The mechanics needed to keep the dome over the aquatic center have failed multiple times in recent years.

Currently JCPRD and Roeland Park split the operating cost and capital expenses associated with the pool and without any funding Roeland Park can expect to spend about $416,000 to keep the pool open year round starting in 2020.

JCPRD director Jill Geller said the county could either move forward with having the dome replaced for the next winter season, take a cash value payment from the insurance company (net total would be between $5,000  and $35,000), or take no action and consider the dome a loss. If the county moves forward with the dome replacement they would need to pay a $25,000 insurance deductible.

Geller said JCPRD has not moved forward with making an insurance claim as they wanted to get Roeland Park’s input first. If the city decides it does want to continue year-round operation of the pool the board would move forward with having the dome replaced.

JCPRD has 180 days to file a claim.

Geller also said while the JCPRD Board was not interested in continuing to subsidize the pool at the level requested recently by the city, they were not against providing some level of support. What that amount could be is unknown, she said.

Councilmember Michael Rhoades asked if there was a sense among JCPRD board members that interest was waning in the Roeland Park pool, with the new Shawnee Mission School District pool in Lenexa, which JCPRD will operate, expected to open in fall 2018.

Geller said she did not necessarily agree with that, and noted that JCPRD wants to continue to be involved with the Roeland Park Aquatic Center.

Councilmember Teresa Kelly said she was under the impression the board was not willing to subsidize the pool and said if that was not the case, the city and JCPRD should work together to determine what level of funding would be approved. Having this information will allow the city to make a decision on the future of year-round pool operations, she said.

Geller said she would place the discussion as an agenda item at the upcoming December 11 JCPRD meeting and the council agreed to send representatives, including councilmembers Kelly and Becky Fast who both serve on the Ad Hoc Aquatics Committee.

Mayor Joel Marquardt asked where any funds from an insurance payout would be directed. Geller noted the policy was owned by the county but said she was unsure how any funds would be sent.

Rhoades asked whether the city would receive any type of reimbursement for the heater/blower purchased in 2016 by the city and the Kansas City Blazers swim team. Geller said the board had not discussed that, but she expected the county would try to recoup as much as they could and then make a decision on where to direct those funds.