City Commission votes to not open The Big Pool for the 2020 season

The Garden City City Commission voted to not open The Big Pool complex for the 2020 season in light of the COVID-19 situation and state and local health orders.

The commission voted 4-1 to not open, with commissioner Roy Cessna dissenting.

Commissioner Manny Ortiz said he was concerned with opening the pool because of the possibility of spreading COVID-19.

"Who's to say that we're going to infect or we're not going to infect anyone we come in contact with?" he said. "It's not that we're social distancing from each other, we need to be physical distancing from each other. ... The pool is just something where I think it's going to be a lot more difficult than what we really think."

Commissioner Deby Oyler shared Ortiz’s concerns.

"Is the reward worth the risk?" she said. "That's kind of for me where it comes down to."

Mayor Troy Unruh said the pool was a big part of his life — he grew up in Garden City and remembers walking to the pool and swimming there all day.

He also worked at the pool the last four seasons. His first year there he worked with three of his daughters, two of his daughters the following year and then it was just him.

He’s come to appreciate and enjoy working with the staff at the pool.

It’s hard to say goodbye, Unruh said — this is not the send off he wanted to give to The Big Pool.

"Part of my angst on this had been really hard, but I want to protect my family ... I want to protect my (pool) family there," he said. "This is not the goodbye that to The Big Pool that I imagined."

Commissioner Cessna said he understands people’s concerns about opening for safety reasons with COVID-19, but at some point it has to be up to individuals to make the decision to go there or not.

"If you don't feel it's safe, then don't go," he said. "It takes personal responsibility as well from my perspective. That's where I'm at."

It also depends on where the state and local officials go with moving the community in the different phases of Gov. Laura Kelly’s reopening plan, Cessna said. The Pool won’t open until the community has entered into Phase 2.

"If we can open it up and be safe, Jennifer (Cunningham) has put a lot of thought into the cleaning of the areas and we’re going to follow protocols, and it depends on where ... we are with that," he said.