Representatives from Confluence, the company tasked with laying out options for a water facility to replace the iconic Big Pool, came to Garden City this weekend to better understand what locals want from the new space.

Confluence Principal Terry Berkbuegler, Confluence’s Avery Nichols and Doug Whiteaker of Water Technology Inc. met locals at Food Truck Fridays at Stevens Park, the Garden City High School football game, the Garden City Charity Classic golf tournament and Lee Richardson Zoo’s Wild Affair, setting up large poster boards with potential amenities.

Adults, teens and young children, jumping to reach the boards, voted with stickers to note which features — from diving boards, slides and lazy rivers to competition lanes, bathhouses and concessions stands — they wanted most. A digital version of the survey will be available on the City of Garden City’s website this week.

The Garden City Commission voted in July to close the Big Pool after its summer 2020 season to make way for the new facility.

After having locals vote on example facility designs this summer, the Garden City Commission brought on Confluence — one of the higher ranking designs — to further study what may be included in the final design. What will be included in that design has not been decided yet, said Berkbuegler and assistant city manager Jennifer Cunningham.

Over the coming weeks, Confluence will review findings from the weekend and online survey to whittle down what features matter to Garden City residents. The company will also complete a feasibility study for the project, Berkbuegler said, which will help the company better understand the market area around Garden City and how much draw the facility may have.

The study will review the demographics of Garden City and the surrounding area, mainly the range of ages and household income, which will help the company prioritize features for young children, teens, adults or seniors and determine affordable pool memberships or daily admission rates. Ultimately, they will also consider potential costs to build the facility, estimated operations costs, admission fees and facility sizes to present to the commission.

Cunningham said the company will likely bring back preliminary data and options for the facility features, pricing and costs to the commission at an extended pre-meeting in October and present more detailed options to the commission in November. By the end of 2019, she said the commission will vote on the scope and details of the project.

Though the process after that point is up in the air, Berkbuegler said the formal design process will move forward in 2020, with early plans to begin construction on the new facility after the Big Pool’s 2020 season and complete the project in time for summer 2021.

At the moment, the details of the project, including its size, features, admission fee or projected costs, are all unknown, Berkbuegler said.

Berkbuegler said residents had spoken with him throughout the day Friday, explaining what features they like at the Long Branch Lagoon water park in Dodge City or Big Pool features they’d like to see preserved, like the bathhouse. At the Food Truck and football game visits, multiple people showed support for an indoor swimming facility with competition lanes.

“We’ve heard folks ask is there anything we can do to try and incorporate some of the existing features or save some of the history? All of that we have to work on and we’ll get to that. That’s kind of the next stage: What can we do to incorporate some of the history of the community or even of the pool today into the future (facility)?” Berkbuegler said.


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