Newton's renovated pool (finally) opens

Chad Frey
The Kansan

It was not a stereotypical day at the Newton Muncipal Pool on Aug. 14. Not in any way. Most Saturdays are pretty slow. And, normally, the pool closes when school starts. 

The City of Newton hosted a grand opening of the Newton Municipal Pool on Aug. 14, marking the completion of a project to rebuild the facility in Athletic Park.

But Aug. 14 was a grand opening, rather than a closing. City leaders hosted a ceremony at 10 a.m. Aug. 14 to celebrate the opening a new facility. 

And in true "if you build it they will come" fashion, people came. 

"It was awesome. It was really busy," said Brian Bascue, Superintendent of the Newton Recreation Commission. 

Saturday there were 457 swimmers, and Sunday followed with 402. 

"That is big time," Bascue said.  "Typically, historically we are lucky to get 100 on a weekend day. I know it is new and people wanted to come check it out."

There will be another weekend to check out the $2.7 million project, as the Recreation Commission has been able to retain enough life guards to be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and 22. 

"We are so excited to get this thing open," Bascue said. "I want to thank the lifeguards. You guys don't understand what it was to keep these guards together all summer long when they did not have a job. They could have gone somewhere else and had a job, but they stuck with us because they knew eventually we were going to have this."

A new "walkout slide" proved to be popular on opening day of the Newton Municipal Pool Aug. 14.

The project was first approved by the city commission last year, after several years of deliberation as the clock ticked on outdated equipment at the pool — equipment that if it failed could not be repaired and would have forced closure of the facility. 

Once approved by the city commission, the board of education and public building commission needed to agree to the project. All told, four different governmental entities were needed to move forward with the project. 

The city entered into a "design build" contract for the project, a move to try and ensure the project would be done faster. But winter storm Yuri in February, followed by a severe wind and rain storm June 25, slowed the project. Instead a few weeks of operation before school began, the city would be treated to a few weekends based on lifeguard availability. 

Newton City Commissioner Rod Kreie was the first person down a renovated slide a the Newton Municipal Pool Aug. 14.

The new facility requires 14 lifeguard — nearly doubling the number of staff needed based on the features installed.  

"It is awesome to know that we doubled the size of that," said Clint McBroom vice-mayor for the City of Newton. 

The project added a zero entry area, lap swimming lanes, a toddler slide, family slide, walkout slide, lazy river, basketball goal, climbing wall, spray features and shade structures to the facility. Also part of the project were renovations to the bath house, and refurbishment of the slide installed during the last renovation project in 1991-92. 

The new pool holds 294,000 gallons of water.

Admission for swimming is $4 per person over age of 4 and up, with younger children free. 

"I was impressed by this," McBroom said. "You can bring the whole family out for a reasonable price."

A $2.7 million project to renovate the Newton Municipal Pool included the addition of a lazy river to the facility.