Due to costly safety structure requirement, Roeland Park council says it likely will not replace pool dome

JCPRD and Roeland Park have partnered on operation of the dome since 1996. That partnership will end next year.

By Holly Cook

After hearing the litany of issues facing efforts to replace the Roeland Park Aquatic Center’s dome in time for the winter 2018-2019 season, councilmembers Monday showed consensus they no longer want to move forward with the dome replacement.

Monday’s tentative decision took place during a governing body workshop and a final vote will not take place until the April 16 city council meeting.

The pool sits uncovered and unused this winter after the inflatable dome became inoperable.

Jim Wilson, planning and development project manager with the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, briefed councilors on some of the hurdles they faced, the most notable being a new building requirement for a safety restraint mechanism that must be installed in conjunction with the dome. The safety structure would ensure the dome could not fall onto the pool and potentially trap swimmers if it completely deflated.

Wilson said preliminary plans demonstrated that the safety structure would require a foundation system installed into the pool deck with support piers potentially cutting into the diving board area and walkways.

Pier installation would require digging into bonded concrete and moving electrical and plumbing nestled under the deck. Wilson said piers used for similar structures were about 42 inches in diameter.

“It has thrown a wrench into the project,” Wilson said.

Because JCPRD was not aware of the safety requirement they did not include the structure within the dome replacement insurance claim. Wilson said JCPRD was working on negotiating with insurance to update the claim but it was unclear what the outcome would be.

According to a city staff report “if the cost of the dome and lighting replacement exceeds current estimates JCPRD may request the City participate in these additional costs.”

Wilson said in a best case scenario the dome replacement would be completed by mid-October or early November, but due to the complexity of the project it would be easy to miss the 2018-2019 winter season entirely.

Roeland Park councilmembers have struggled to decide whether to continue year-round operation of the pool after the city’s joint-funding agreement with JCPRD ends May 2019. The decision became more complex after the dome was damaged beyond repair during an October 2017 wind storm.

Following the JCPRD presentation, several councilmembers commented they did not think replacing the failed dome with a new, similar system was practical.

Councilmember Becky Fast said it would be really difficult to move forward with a dome replacement knowing that the safety structure would change the look and function of the pool during both the winter and summer seasons.

“This is a hard reality for me,” Fast said.

Councilmember Jen Hill said she felt the council had worked hard to save the dome but that “it may be time to let it go.”

“At this point moving forward with the dome seems reckless,” Hill said.

Councilmember Michael Poppa also signaled his opposition to continuing with the dome replacement.

“I don’t think it’s feasible for us to continue with the dome at this time,” Poppa said.

JCPRD has been working to secure a new dome since January when councilmembers voted 5-2 in favor of trying to replace the dome in time for the 2018 winter season. Councilmembers Becky Fast, Tom Madigan, Jen Hill, Jim Kelly and Michael Poppa voted in favor of the dome replacement at the January meeting while councilmembers Tim Janssen and Claudia McCormack voted against it. Councilmember Erin Thompson was absent from the meeting and was also absent Monday night.