Lenexa to keep Ad Astra Pool open next year while city staff collect public input on next steps for site

Ad Astra Pool
Ad Astra Pool. Photo courtesy of city of Lenexa

Lenexa city leaders have agreed to keep Ad Astra Pool open for one more year while they decide what to do with the site in the future.

The pool at 83rd Street and Maurer Road was scheduled to permanently close at the end of this past summer. However, after residents raised objections — and some organized a coalition in opposition to the closure — city staff and leaders embarked on a public engagement process to determine next steps.

The Lenexa city council on Oct. 15 voted to reallocate funds from the city’s capital improvement plan for 2020 (originally budgeted at $3.9 million) to open and operate the pool in 2020. The council also directed staff to hire Lenexa-based Waters Edge Aquatic Design in the public input process regarding future aquatics plans in the city.

“Over the past several months there have been in-depth discussions about the recently completed aquatics study and the closure of Ad Astra Pool,” said Logan Wagler, deputy director of parks and recreation, adding that city staff have heard “great comments and feedback” from city leaders and residents. “We are excited to take the aquatics study to the next step and conduct a public engagement process. This process will supplement the already completed work and would allow for a wide range of public input opportunities to help guide decisions on potential future investments towards our outdoor aquatic facilities.”

Over the next several months, city staff and Waters Edge will work through a public engagement process that includes in-person focus user group meetings from pool users, swim and dive team participants, day camp and daycare providers and the Save Ad Astra Pool Coalition. Additionally, the city will host open houses, conduct a statistically valid community survey and collect additional public feedback through online surveys.

“(The) key here is we are going to provide a wide range of opportunities and options for people to get their voice heard,” Wagler added. “We also want to ensure that all areas of the community are heard.”

The city is reallocating $173,000 to cover costs to open Ad Astra Pool next year. That includes $157,000 for operations and $16,000 for caulking, one of the pool’s ongoing maintenance issues.

“We are thrilled with the city of Lenexa’s decision to reopen Ad Astra pool for the 2020 season,” said Laurel Joyce on behalf of the Save Ad Astra Pool Coalition.

Joyce started a petition online that has garnered more than 1,700 signatures so far.

“We feel this is a huge step in the right direction and are looking forward to working with the city during the public engagement process,” she added. “We are grateful for the community members who have supported the coalition, and we are hopeful there will be a pool at Ad Astra for the community to enjoy for years to come.”

Lenexa had previously hired Waters Edge to complete an evaluation of the city’s aquatics facilities — that evaluation made several recommendations, but the city council has not taken action on any of those recommendations. Part of the study’s suggestions included permanent closure of Ad Astra Pool or converting it into a splash park.

City staff had also recommended closing Ad Astra Pool because of its physical condition, structural problems with the foundation, lack of recreational amenities, low attendance and expensive operations. Last month, city leaders heard initial results from geotechnical firm Braun Intertec that confirmed the geological conditions and uneven settling of the site.

“Outdoor pools are very big investments, but they play a meaningful and profound role in our community’s recreational opportunities,” Wagler said. “We certainly want to take whatever time is necessary for the community to be heard and for the council to have the best information available to make decisions.”

Wagler noted that additional funding to keep the pool open next year will not cover major repairs, mechanical failures or other unforeseen circumstances.