Wichita officials still deciding on public pools, other areas will open in June

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Will pools open or stay closed?

While Wichita officials weigh the options for public pools, other areas in Sedgwick County are prepping to open in June.

The slides at Rock River Rapids in Derby will soon have families having fun in the sun. But that fun will come with some big changes.

“We’re going to have an hour in between those sessions to clean the park and we will be asking everyone to leave during that hour,” said Chris Drum, superintendent of the Derby Recreation Commission.

750 people will be allowed in the park per session and tickets will only be sold online.

Drun said no life jackets or lawn chairs will be provided by the park.

“It was certainly a goal of ours to be able to provide this service to our community this summer,” said Drum.

If there is a guest who later tests positive for COVID-19, officials are prepared for contact tracing.

“Anyone who comes through the gate, we have their information and we can notify everyone who may be present on a particular day,” said Drum.

These same precautions are what some city leaders in Wichita are taking into consideration. The city is still deciding on whether or not public pools will open this year.

Brandon Johnson, city councilman, said opening the pools could mean high budget deficits and not every pool would be ready to open.

Johnson said there would also be a strict limit on the number of people allowed in the pool at a time.

The city is considering keeping the pools closed and moving forward with repairs and construction in an already approved aquatics plan. Going ahead with that would put the city ahead of schedule and Johnson said the newly renovated pools could be ready to go by 2021.

“You don’t really want people sitting out in the sun, watching, waiting for their turn in the pool,” said Johnson.

As for other pools in the area opening, Johnson said he knows officials did not take their decisions lightly.

“Everything that’s opening right now, my main concern is that people truly adhere to the safety recommendations; social distancing, masks,” said Johnson.

Right now, the discussion about pools is not on the city council agenda for the upcoming meeting, but Johnson said it is likely it will be decided in the next budget retreat in the coming weeks or a decision will be made after the city manager receives recommendations from several groups.

For more information about Rock River Rapids or to purchase tickets, click here.

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