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Garden City's Big Pool loses $1,000 of water every day

June 16, 2019 - 1:58 pm

Officials in Garden City are sweating over a nearly century-old swimming pool that leaks about 200,000 gallons of water every day.

The water loss at Big Pool is excessive, even for a pool that holds around 2 million gallons, said Garden City's water resource manager, Fred Jones.

"It's kinda to the point where we feel like it's probably nearing the end of its service life," Jones said.

Refilling the Big Pool costs $1,000 a day, and the city spends up to $800,000 on repairs, staff and water for the pool from Memorial Day to Labor Day, assistant city manager Jennifer Cunningham said.

Cunningham told the Kansas News Service that coating the pool with concrete repairs the leaks, but that it is expensive to do. The city repaired the baby pool, the shallow end and the plunge pool at a cost of $150,000 and it would cost another $750,000 to fix the deep end, she said. But that's not cost-effective, as the repairs would last for only five years.

"Concrete breaks down over time, especially when it's out in the cold in the wintertime and it's out in the heat in the summertime and it's filled with water," she said. "It expands, it contracts and eventually breaks down."

Cunningham said she supports scrapping the Big Pool and building a replacement that's designed to last.

Visitors to the pool earlier this month said they didn't want the pool to close.

Sherry Frizzell, 57, said she has been swimming at the pool all her life.

"I want to see the pool stay," Frizell said. "Instead of putting other stuff in, they should have fixed what was wrong in the first place."

Around 65,000 people used the pool annually in the 1960s, but attendance has dropped to about 300 people a day. Cunningham attributes that drop to the introduction of a $2 admission fee. Until 2003, the pool was free.

Forty-six-year-old Garden City resident Lana Steinmetz said she has been visiting the pool since she was 8 years old and that she hopes the city finds a way to keep it open.

"They already put so much money into it," she said.

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