After nearly six decades offering La Vistans a cool spot to escape the summer heat, the city’s community pool is circling the drain.
For years, the pool has caused headaches for the city’s public works employees. The infrastructure undergirding the pool is old and often requires repair. Leaking is a common occurrence.
“Our current pool isn’t holding water — literally,” La Vista spokesman Mitch Beaumont said in a recent interview.
City leaders have been envisioning a new community pool, one with slides and spray features and all the trimmings of a modern space to splash around in during summer months. The big question: Where should they put it?
The current pool is west of 84th Street smack-dab between Harrison Street and Giles Road, essentially in the heart of La Vista. Keeping the pool in a central location is a priority, the city has said.
Earlier this fall, the city met with neighbors who live near the 15-acre park to explain why they’re considering using some of the park’s green space — about 5 acres — for the pool, and to hear their concerns. Since October, the city has held two public forums to get wider community feedback.
Mary Nielsen, who has lived two blocks from Central Park for 37 years, enjoys the serenity of living near a park. She said she’s concerned about the noise and traffic that could accompany the pool.
“I’ll hear every scream, every whistle,” Nielsen said.
Beaumont said the city understands those concerns, and officials are trying to be transparent as they search for the best solution for a new pool. At the same time, the small, landlocked city only has so many options, he said.
“Our community needs a pool,” Beaumont said. “It has to go somewhere.”
Some have questioned why the city can’t simply renovate the existing pool or build a new one on the same site. The reason, as the city explains it, is complicated.
The city has long used Central Park to host festivals and community events, like its annual Salute to Summer. But the construction of a fire access road in Civic Center Park, not far from Central Park, means that such events must be moved because the road, which connects to Central Park, cannot be closed off during such events.
The city now is considering the site of the current pool and nearby Kelly McMahon Field for such community events.
None of these plans, including the future pool’s location, are final. The City Council will need to approve any plan for the pool, which could happen in early 2020.
A funding plan for the pool, which could have a price tag of about $6 million, also must be approved. The city is still working on those details.
In the meantime, La Vista leaders have tasked private partners with mapping out conceptual designs for the pool. It is working with Waters Edge Aquatic Design, based in the Kansas City area.
Three possible designs for the new pool show a range of features that will cater to families, teenagers and anyone seeking a fun day at the pool. They include slides, lap pools, shallow areas, spray features and play structures.
The plans were designed in tandem with the results of a community survey that asked La Vista residents what they wanted from a pool.
Jeff Bartley, an engineer with Waters Edge Aquatic Design, said La Vista’s future pool will look much different from the basic, rectangular one that residents know today.
“Anymore, with the modern aquatic center, we’re trying to (enhance those features) … so it feels a little more interesting when you’re there,” Bartley said.
Construction of the pool, Bartley said, could take 12 to 18 months. The city has said it hopes to have the project complete by the 2021 season.