Newton municipal pool filled with water, scheduled to open

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Aug. 9 Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton, was touring a new pool facility in Athletic Park, pointing out the last touches that are needed before the pool can open to the public. 

A list of final items and touchups for a project to construct a new pool facility was created Aug. 9. The pool's grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 14.

The project, so close to its completion, is something she has been working on for years. 

"We have multiple versions of something to do here for years," Loomis said. "Many years. And then it took getting four different governing bodies to agree on it. It took the city, the school district, the [Newton Recreation Commission] and the Public Building Commission. ... It has been a long time coming, and it is going to be a great improvement for Newton."

The opening date of the pool has been pushed back at least twice in the last month, and the new date happens after school begins for Newton USD 373 on Aug. 12. 

But the Recreation Commission, which operates the pool on behalf of the city, is pressing forward with having as many swim times as possible this year. 

The pool will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 14 and 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 15. The recreation commission is also planning swim times from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and 22. 

"We'll see from there," said Brian Bascue, superintendent of the Newton Recreation Commission. "Once kids get back in school and get their schedules, [we will consider] any other weekends."

That rests, he said, on the availability of lifeguards who are predominately high school and college students. The recreation commission has already lost college age staff as they return to school. High school aged staff will follow as fall activities and sports kick into gear. 

A zero entry area with features for children was added to the Newton Municipal Pool.

The renovated pool, with new slides for kids, a new walkout slide, new lazy river and new rock climbing wall, is an upgrade from what was in that space before — a pool last renovated in 1992. 

"It is not a giant waterpark, that is not what this is," Loomis said. "This what we could afford. It is new. It is going to be nice. We have refurbished what we could and brought in new pieces. Ultimately, it is perfect for Newton." 

The project, a $2.7 million project funded by the Public Building Commission, was approved to move forward in 2019. Demolition work began in January — even before final plans were complete. Once costs were finalized at the end of March under a "design/build" contract approved by the Newton City Commission. 

A winter weather event delayed construction in March, but at that time the project was still on target for a July completion. A June storm that left the area with damaged roofs and downed tree limbs also created problems for the construction crew, forcing further delays of the project. 

As workers put the finishing touches on a the pool project, the pool was filled with water over the weekend.

Also on the docket for this year was a project to renovate and upgrade baseball and softball facilities at Centennial Park. That project, funded as part of the pool project, has been delayed as construction costs forced bids to be higher than estimates and budgeted expenses.