Merriam agrees on aquatics features for new community center; residents submit protest petition

A rendering of the courtyard entrance to the new Merriam Community Center.

With construction on the new community center in Merriam well underway, the city council this month approved a package of  features for the new aquatics facilities.

McCarthy Construction will continue working on grading and utilities through February, removing 70 to 80 truckloads of dirt each day over the next two weeks, said assistant city administrator Meredith Hauck. She and city staff provide monthly updates on the project, which can be reviewed on the city website alongside time lapse updates as well as video on the city’s YouTube channel.

In the coming months, the majority of construction traffic will enter through IKEA Way, Hauck said, adding that this should remove traffic from the residential side of the project along Slater Street.

The new aquatics centers may feature a ‘bump’ of water in the lazy river. Photo courtesy of city of Merriam

Foundation work will also begin in the next several weeks. Meanwhile, the city is calling for artists to submit ideas by Feb. 4 for two art pieces to be located at the new community center.

The council unanimously approved the design committee’s recommendation on fun features for the pool areas. In the outdoor pool, these include an “Aqua ZipN” (mini zipline) into the deep end, spill mix features with buckets, umbrella features that spray, features that create falling sheets of water, places where water pops straight up in the air and “surf stones” where water bubbles out of smooth stones.

“We want to make sure that we have enough features in the pool but not too many,” Hauck said, adding that the design committee considered the various needs pool patrons: Some who want to get splashed and interact more with the water and others who prefer quieter spaces to enjoy the pool.

One of the splash features the city agreed to include in its new aquatics facilities. Photo courtesy of city of Merriam

Hauck said the outdoor facility will feature two shady areas.

The indoor pool will feature a lazy river, waterfall features, a shimmer sheet and a taller slide next to a family slide. The lazy river will also have a feature that creates a “bump” of water in the river when someone pushes a button.

Merriam council will consider in its Feb. 11 meeting bid package #3 for the project.

Hauck said the project is still on budget. Projected costs remain at $35,464,200, while the contingency funds remain at $1,135,800.

Merriam residents submit petitions against process

Merriam residents on Monday submitted their petitions against the community center process.

Meanwhile, a group of Merriam residents with concerns about the project submitted three petitions on Monday; those petitions have hundreds of signatures from Merriam voters, the group said.

The group, self-named Merriam Concerned Citizens, have said they think the new aquatics facility does not meet their expectations when they voted to approve the project last year. They were also concerned that the project was over the $30 million budget, because the city plans to use $6.6 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds to pay for construction of a parking structure and associated site work. Finally, the group spoke against allowing Johnson County Library to rebuild the Antioch Library on the new community center site without first putting it a vote by Merriam residents.

City administrator Chris Engel said the city attorney or a third-party attorney hired by the city will need to ensure that the petitions are legitimate questions and not “administrative in nature” — in other words, the petitions would not be considered legitimate if they flag city administration activity that is legal according to Kansas law.