LARNED — Work on the Larned public pool is progressing, and pool staff are working on preparations at the pool house in anticipation of opening later this summer. When exactly is still up in the air, said City Manager Brad Eilts.
Wednesday afternoon, electrical workers were installing new LED lamps on pole lights surrounding the pool. With the last of the wall light units expected to be delivered soon, work will soon begin on adding a new seal to a section of concrete in the deep end and a new coat of paint.
“We went through a process, but sometimes, that process is really important,” Eilts said. “This isn’t the final solution, but it’s like the analogy of buying a new car. We needed one, but we couldn’t afford one, so we’re fixing up the old one enough to get us by until we’re in a position to buy that new car.”
That process began in September, 2017. Citizens were asking for solutions, and the city council began weighing the problem. The faulty filtration and heaved decking systems were the main concerns. A citizen-led pool advisory committee was formed. Over the next couple of years, internal issues with the committee led to its reformation. After years of debate and putting a pencil to the budget, in late 2019 the committee recommended replacement of the pool on safety grounds, but the cost was more than the city was willing to shoulder in light of other pressing improvements to its aged water system.
The leadership was unwilling to close the pool, but the existing conditions at the pool put the city at risk for liability concerns. Other common-sense solutions were sought in order to at least keep the pool open short term.
“The path of least resistance would have been to do nothing,” Eilts said. “They said, “we’re not going to do that.” They made a concerted effort not to be “kicking the can down the road.”
Eilts reached out to Tim Schaller, a local architect. After several meetings, they fleshed out a step-by-step plan to determine if the pool could be repaired enough to safely provide summer recreation to Larned for at least the short term.
He advised prioritizing the repairs by severity, looking at what could be fixed, and doing it in a methodical way, noting that all the work didn’t have to be done all at once. City council members were eager to give the suggested fix a try.
The cost of the suggested repairs will come in at around $100,000, compared to the more than 10 times expense of a new pool.
“The beauty of it is, it would be significantly more if we didn’t have the dedication and talents that we have with our employees,” Eilts said. “They’ve made a really big push this spring and they really just do a great job.”
The city brought in a Great Bend firm to scope the filtration system to determine where repairs were needed, and then hired a pipelining contractor to come in and complete the repairs.
Two layers of decking were removed from around the pool, and a channel was excavated around it. Crews also scraped and prepped the interior of the pool for new paint, sandblasted the seam and prepped for a new seal in the deep end where leaking may have been a problem as well.
“This has definitely been a real team effort,” Eilts said. “We had our electric production guys do work here. We had parks, street and water departments. There wasn’t a department that wasn’t touched by this – they did a lot of work.”
And not at the expense of their regular workload, Eilts pointed out. A mild winter and spring without snow storms or flooding with the associated clean up involved was a big help.
With the pool’s decking removed, Haynes Electric Inc., Larned, installed eight LED pole lights and seven pool wall lights, and ran electrical and speaker wiring through new conduit around the pool. The city council will consider replacement speakers in 2021 or later.
A new $58,000 filtration system for the pool, manufactured and sourced locally from United Industries in Sterling, was delivered and set in place at the beginning of May. Installation will be completed soon. The unit can also be utilized in the future at a new pool when the city raises enough funds to make a project of that magnitude feasible.
Opening not set
Opening of the pool is still several weeks off. Once painted, there will be a curing period before the pool can be filled. At that point, the new lights will be tested, as well as the filtration system. When everything checks out, the channel will be filled and the new decking set. And, opening will also depend on how Governor Kelly’s reopening plan for the state progresses, Eilts added.