Lenexa continues study of Ad Astra Pool, considers options to renovate or replace on site

Ad Astra Pool is experiencing chronic settlement issues due to uneven sub-surface conditions, according to initial findings from a geotechnical analysis.

Preliminary data from a geotechnical analysis of Ad Astra Pool in Lenexa has found no conclusive evidence for the reason behind the pool’s perpetual maintenance issues.

In a report shared Tuesday night with the city council, city staff said they plan to continue studying the issue, complete the geotechnical analysis and begin a public engagement process in the coming weeks on next steps for the site.

No action was taken Tuesday, as city leaders are waiting on the geotechnical analysis to be complete.

The pool was in its last season this summer, and the city council recently approved a 2020 budget with no funds earmarked for another pool season at Ad Astra next year. However, many Lenexa residents objected when the city announced plans to close the pool for good earlier this year, leading the council to reconsider whether the pool would be shuttered.

Initial findings of geotechnical analysis

Lenexa city staff Logan Wagler led a presentation on the initial findings of the geotechnical analysis and options for the Ad Astra Pool site moving forward.

After drilling holes to investigate the ground beneath areas of the site that have had significant settlement issues, sub-surface conditions were found to be mostly made of clay, a loose density of gravel fill and sandstone bedrock.

Logan Wagler, deputy director of parks and recreation, said preliminary findings from the geotechnical analysis indicate there is no single cause that can readily explain the settlement occurring at the site. However, the geotechnical consultant Braun Intertec provided a few initial theories:

  • The gravel fill is loose and may not have compacted well at the time of construction
  • Water that may be seeping through the gravel layer combined with the vibrations coming from the surface, causing the gravel to settle over time
  • The gravel fill may continue settling indefinitely, continuing to cause settlement issues

Braun Intertec is working with city staff on the geotechnical analysis. Wagler expects the consultant’s full report to be available in the next few weeks.

If the city council decides to reconstruct the pool on site, then there is a risk for even further settlement without further site remediation, Wagler said. The gravel fill would probably have to be removed, or other methods may be employed.

Two options: Renovate or replace

Ad Astra Pool
Lenexa city staff said Ad Astra Pool regularly experiences cracking of the concrete and piping. Photo courtesy of city of Lenexa

If the city decides to keep a pool on the site, then two initial options emerge: renovation or replacement.

Wagler said renovating the pool would require an entry configuration, improving the bathhouse, addressing accessibility issues, significant repairs to the pool structure and possibly adding amenities. This could cost between $5 million and $6.5 million and could extend the life of the pool for another 20 years.

On the other hand, replacing the pool, albeit with a smaller neighborhood facility, reduces the footprint and costs to operate, Wagler said. The facility could have amenities like spray features, zero-depth entry, water play structure, diving well and climbing wall. This could cost between $5.5 million to $7 million.

A third option that calls for removing the pool and enhancing the nearby park would cost about $1.8 million, Wagler said.

City Manager Beccy Yocham said staff recommends hiring Waters Edge to begin a public engagement process moving forward.

“Ultimately, even though we’ve provided information relative to capital costs, I just want to reiterate that we really do recommend that the decision regarding any kind of additional investment in the existing pool or a new pool at this site be made in the context of an overall aquatics strategy for the city and not just relative to Ad Astra,” Yocham added.

Whether to reopen Ad Astra Pool in 2020

Wagler said reopening the pool will cost $173,000 — this includes operations costs of $157,000 and about $34,500 for maintenance issues like mud-jacking, painting and pool caulking. Wagler noted that estimated costs do not cover pipe failures or other unforeseen circumstances. Regardless, the pool is estimated to operate at a subsidy of $69,000.

If the council decides to reopen Ad Astra Pool next year, then staff recommends transferring funds from the city’s capital improvement fund to cover costs for pool operations. Wagler said staff would prefer a decision be made by mid-November to allow time to hire pool staff and begin selling 2020 pool passes.

Wagler said the site requires accessibility improvements because the slopes are too steep for federal standards. Federal requirements for accessible parking require the maximum slope be no more than 2%, but the site averages 9%. Likewise, the slopes on the sidewalks are too steep, averaging about 6% — federal requirements for accessible sidewalks require the slope be no more than 5%.