Lenexa has approved the budget for next year without dedicating funds for Ad Astra Pool — but city leaders assured residents they are strongly considering keeping the pool open for another season while they look into options for possibly restoring it.
City Manager Beccy Yocham at Tuesday’s council meeting said the city’s adoption of the 2020 budget does not impact the city council’s two pending decisions on Ad Astra Pool — whether to open the pool for another season next year and what to do with the site as far as rebuilding the pool or turning it into something else.
“So if you elect to reopen the pool next year, we will need to find funds within the existing proposed budget to do so,” Yocham said, adding that the city cannot increase the proposed budget after it’s been published. The city published the proposed budget in early July.
Yocham said the city is working to finalize costs to open the pool for another season in 2020, but initial cost estimates indicate it would be less than $200,000, assuming there are no unforeseen major repairs. Yocham added that city staff believes those funds can be accommodated within the existing 2020 budget without the need to increase the budget.
The city needs to hit a few deadlines leading up to a possible reopening of Ad Astra Pool next year. City staff would need to start hiring lifeguards months before the 2020 season would begin.
If the Lenexa council decides to restore or rebuild Ad Astra Pool, costs for that project would be considered in the city’s capital improvement program. CIP discussions will begin in October, and adoption of the city’s capital improvement program takes place in December.
City staff are working on a geotechnical analysis of the pool; that analysis will give the city a more accurate cost to rebuild it, Yocham said. City staff are also creating a process for public engagement on plans for the site going forward. Yocham said city staff’s goal is to have these items ready for the council’s consideration Sept. 17.
“But that’s tentative at this point,” Yocham added. “It looks good; we think we’ll probably make it, but I don’t want to make any guarantee on that in case we aren’t able to wrap up the geotechnical detail that we need by that time.”
Mayor Michael Boehm said the city council has both the authority and cash reserves to reopen Ad Astra Pool. However, the analysis may show that costs to make open the pool next year could prove to be too expensive, regardless of whether the council decides to rebuild Ad Astra Pool in the future, he added.
A couple of dozen residents with the Save Ad Astra Pool Coalition attended Tuesday’s meeting. Mike Stein, a Lenexa resident representing the coalition, said they would like to see funds allocated to reopening the pool next year.
“I just have to ask for the council’s consideration to have something concrete to go forward with that possibly includes citizen interaction with city staff,” Stein said.
Councilmembers Joe Karlin, Dan Roh and Corey Hunt shared their support to reopen Ad Astra Pool next year, provided that expenses to do so won’t be too large.
“I would advocate to keep Ad Astra open next year,” Hunt said. “I’m not in favor of writing a blank check for that to happen, but I think we’ve outlined what we would like to go forward.”
In a statement after the meeting, the coalition gave thanks to the councilmembers for sharing their support to reopen the pool and were “encouraged” to learn there are sufficient funds in the 2020 budget to accommodate Ad Astra Pool.
“We’re not in the home stretch yet!” the coalition wrote. “We need as many people as possible at the Sept. 17th council meeting, where we will continue the discussion and hear the findings of the structural reports and, hopefully, a final recommendation regarding the future of this beloved pool.”
Lenexa’s recommended 2020 budget of $174 million calls for lowering the mill levy to an estimated 29.289 mills, a decrease of 0.62 mills, or 2%, from 2019. The Lenexa council unanimously approved the 2020 budget without further discussion.