The Big Garden City Pool is back with a new name, a new look and top-flight attractions
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A notorious Garden City landmark is undergoing overhaul and modernization.
The large pool was a historic Garden City centerpiece that has been open for nearly a century. The pool was the largest hand-dug public pool in the world when it was first built in 1921. During its hay day, the pool held nearly 2.5 million gallons of water.
Twenty-eight months ago, the previous commission of the city of Garden City addressed the question of the future of the large swimming pool and aquatic activities for the city.
It was determined that The Big Pool could not function. The city says the facility was losing nearly 200,000 gallons of water per day and required a budget of about $ 800,000 for the three-month summer season. This was a significantly higher budget than that of other departments operating throughout the year.
“We had issues with algae, issues with water loss and issues with expenses,” said Jennifer Cunningham, assistant manager of Garden City.
The facility also faced challenges when treating the water chemically. Due to the large leaks, the pool had to be continuously refilled and the water removed. This led to almost $ 110,000 being set aside to keep the pool clean.
Considering many factors, the city commission decided to change gears and build a new facility.
The $ 14 million Garden Rapids at the Big Pool project kicked off last summer by starting construction in July after The Big Pool’s final 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.
Now the new facility is gearing up for its first summer of pool enthusiasts.
“We ended up meeting around 6,500 people. We had 4,500 people, including students, who filled out surveys on what they wanted the commission to do, and that was it, ”Cunningham said.
The aquatic center will include a man-made river, zero-depth entry and competition pools, a children’s play area and a paddling pool, among other amenities.
It is also the first municipal facility in the country to have Fly High Slides. These slides launch people almost 10 feet into the air depending on a person’s weight and speed.
But there is more.
“We’re the first pool in the Midwest to have what they call the Slipstream which is this slim one, that you get down on your feet,” said Aaron Stewart, director of parks and recreation for Garden City.
The pool will hold almost a million gallons of water, about half the amount of water compared to the old Big Pool. However, guests will have a larger pool deck area than The Big Pool maintained.
The city says the pool has caught the attention of guests in neighboring states such as Colorado and Nebraska.
“By bringing people here, they’re going to stay in our hotels, they’re going to eat in our restaurants, and they’re going to shop in our shopping areas, and they’re going to increase the sales tax in Garden City. that’s going to benefit all of us, ”Cunningham said.
Stewart says the facility expects prior daily attendance of 350 people per day to double and possibly triple.
“In my world of parks and recreation, that’s what we try to do is get people involved in the facilities to make them more active,” said Stewart.
The new attraction will keep a touch of the old large living pool. Before entering the Garden Rapids facilities, guests are invited to glide into the past on the iconic elephant slide.
The main pool is scheduled to open, weather permitting, for Memorial Day weekend on May 29. There will be an opening ceremony, freebies and free admission from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The semi-private cabins and the paddling pool will be added throughout the summer. The cabins are expected to be completed in mid-July, followed by the splash zone in mid-August.
For more information on the pool and admission, click here.