More people are swimming in the Big Pool at Garden Rapids, but water usage is down

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Area residents float and walk along the Lazy River path at Garden Rapids at the Big Pool earlier this summer.

Aaron Stewart, Garden City Parks and Recreation director, gave the Garden City Commission a mid-season report on Garden Rapids at the Big Pool at their regular meeting Tuesday. 

Revenue and attendance

Since opening, the pool has had an average of about 893 people per day as of July 14, Stewart said. The number has fluctuated, being as high as 1,000 a day and as low as 800 a day. 

Compared to an average of 309 in 2019 and 330 in 2018, it's a significant increase, Stewart said. 

All data is as of July 14, or with 36 days left of operation, for 2018, 2019 and 2021, with the exception of water usage, which is as of July 8.

The number of swimmers has also increased, with 39,308 in 2021. In 2019 there were 25,610 and 27,721 in 2018, Stewart said. 

"There will be 71,469 swimmers if we continue on this average, that would be our year total," he said.

Stewart speculates that cooler temperatures this year compared to 2018 and 2019 have contributed to attendance.

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"We've had a really cool year. It's been a really strange year when you consider that we're basically half of the 100-degree days and half of the 90-degree days that we've had prior years," he said. "There's an extremely discernable difference when you walk through there on a 100-degree day verses an 84-degree day. Ironically, I think that is detracting from some of our attendance this year, especially that two weeks where it was fairly cool."

In the 2021 season there have been four days over 100 degrees and 25 over 90 degrees. In 2019 there were eight days over 100 degrees and 44 days over 90 degrees and in 2018 there were seven days over 100 degrees and 52 days over 90 degrees.

Garden Rapids gate revenue has generated $106,116 in 2012 compared to $51,220 in 2019 and $52,097 in 2018. 

Events at Garden Rapids have been well attended, Stewart reported. Adult Night has been gaining in popularity with 383 attending after two events. 

"The first night was 150 and 230-240 over on the second one," he said. 

Kid's Night is the most popular, averaging about 300 participants per event.  

Dive in Movie nights had a good turnout, but few people were watching the movies, Stewart said. They put out a poll on Garden Rapids' Facebook page asking if people wanted to have a movie or if they wanted to just have a night swim, 82% of the votes came back in favor of a night swim.

"We did a night swim and we were somewhere around the number of 330-350 that we just did on Friday (July 16)," he said. "I think we made the right choice."

As far as pool rentals, there has been a total of 13 rentals, with one after hours full pool rental, the rest were cabana rentals. Stewart believes the semi-private cabanas will see a dramatic increase once they are available. 

"The cabanas were supposed to be in and I got word last week that they're going to be delayed, so those probably won't be operating this year," he said. "We're probably looking at the end of August for those." 

Pool attendees have been utilizing concessions, the revenue has increased to a daily average of $1,700. In 2019 the average was $450 and in 2018 it was $462. 

Water usage is much lower in 2021 than in past years, Stewart said. If pool fill-up is included, $1,589,112 gallons have been used.

"We're using just over 56,000 gallons a day, most of that is due to splash out," he said. "The evaporation rate's the same as it was, actually it may be less this year since it's a little cooler, but if you've been around the pool and you look at the deck, you literally see a ton of water coming out of the pool. That being said, when you compare it to the history, we're still doing really well."

For comparison, in June 2018 at the Big Pool used an average of 6,274,122 gallons of water per day and 6,530,960 in 2019. At Garden Rapids in June of this year 1,892,520 gallons have been used. 

Fireworks violations

Also at the meeting, the Commission heard the annual presentation of fireworks violations from the Garden City Police Department and Garden City Fire Department. 

Lt. John Bemis of the fire department said calls for them were down this year at 12, last year they had 15 calls. 

The GCPD also saw a decrease in the number of calls related to fireworks violations, this year they received 41 calls whereas in 2020 they had 83 calls.

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In the city the GCFD responded to six grass fires, five dumpster fires and one vehicle fire related to fireworks. Additionally they responded to nine in the county and two in the city of Holcomb. 

"They are coming down," Bemis said. "I want to attribute it to all the information we've been passing out to the citizens and the amount of moisture we've been given this month I think drastically helped us."

Property loss also saw a decrease. In 2020 there was $1,944 in property loss and in 2021 there was around $1,700, Bemis reported. 

"That's always a good thing when those numbers come down," he said. "We also had zero fireworks related injuries, that the fire department ran on, so that's a blessing right there."

In other business, Commissioners approved an ordinance authorizing the city to make improvements to the Garden City Regional Airport and authorized the issue of general obligations bonds to pay a portion of the costs for construction of a new airport terminal.

The total estimated cost of the project is $30,310,845 with $17,959 coming from CARES Act funds, $3,759,481 coming from FAA Entitlement funds and $1 million from the Kansas Affordable Air Fares, leaving the city to pay $8 million, which is financed by the taxable general obligation bonds.

Additionally, the Commission approved an ordinance authorizing the city to make improvements to South East Community Park for Phase III improvements including final design and construction for a total of $1.6 million; improvements to Finnup Scout Park to design and construct a skatepark for a total of $800,000; and installation of a new storm sewer on Fulton Street to improve area drainage with the Kansas Department of Transportation providing $1 million and the city financing $600,000.