The Wellington City Council reached a consensus at its May 19 meeting of supporting the City Park Board recommendation to open the Wellington Family Aquatic Center, June 15.
City Public Works Director Jeremy Jones and Wellington Recreation Center Director Cody White gave the city council an update on the swimming pool.
Due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, the public was not permitted to attend the meeting. (Only people on the agenda were allowed to attend.) However the meeting was streamed live to the public and can still be viewed at the city’s website, www.cityofwellington.net via YouTube.
White told the council that It is difficult to have people stay apart in water, but the primary places where social distancing guidelines would have to be set are the main entrance, restrooms and concession stands. There would also probably be plans to have people bring their own lawn chairs to set on the deck.
While patrons are usually required to keep food in the concession area, they may be allowed to bring it to the lounge area to prevent overcrowding, White said.
Council member Joe Soria asked if with mass gathering restrictions, the first 30 could swim for two hours, followed by another group. White said that had been discussed, along with the idea of patrons wearing wrist bands to identify them with a 1 to 3 p.m. group, for example.
“Yes, there’s some planning and ideas being thrown around, but is there anything concrete? Is there anything perfect?” White said. “I don’t have that answer. Everything changes. From last week to this week it’s changed and we’re back to the drawing board.”
White said the pool would have to be filled no later than a week before opening so lifeguards could do training and to allow for cleaning.
Council member Kevin Dodds said, “We rely on WRC to manage the pool. I have full faith in Mr. White that they will come up with a plan and then will do what’s necessary.”
White said, “You trust me to make sure things run smoothly. I have the staff to make that happen.”
Dodds mentioned the disappointments kids have had due to COVID-19 - the loss of the last quarter of school, graduation being postponed and youth sports being cancelled.
“This is one of the things in this town that kids have to look forward to every summer and as a council, I don’t think we should disappoint them,” he said.
White said, “It’s part of childhood. I’d hate to rob that of a child.”
Council member Robert Hamilton said he recommended going with June 15 as the date for opening the pool. That was the consensus of the council.
After the meeting, White said in an email, “It’s not unusual to have their input on when we open (which has traditionally been on Friday of the Memorial Day weekend) but in this time of uncertainty, we wanted to hear their thoughts. I’m just glad it’s opening.”
In other business, Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Valerie Earl talked about having the Wellington Best Lawn contest and asked that the first place winner have their utility bills cut by $300, the second place by $200 and third place by $100. Dodds made a motion to vote on it and the motion was unanimously passed.
Entrees to the contest will be accepted until 5 p.m., June 21.
The council also granted Earl’s requests for several downtown street closings between July 8 and July 12 for the Kansas Wheat Festival events, such as the Arts and Crafts Fair, car show, carnival and street dance.
A common consumption area, which proved successful at last year’s KWF, was also approved for a section of the downtown area. The common consumption area would be open from 4 p.m. July 9 until noon July 11.
In other business:
The council approved, by a 4-2 vote, a resolution approving a franchise agreement with Sumner Cowley Electric Inc. to serve as electric supplier for the property that was annexed by the city at the request of BNSF Railway Co. Council members Soria, Jennifer Heersche, Mike Westmoreland and Guy Leitch voted for the resolution. Dodds and Hamilton voted against it.
The council approved a four-year agreement for banking services to Bank of Commerce to begin this July 1.