February 11, 2016

Gardner Aquatic Center to shutter part of pool for paint fix

Danedri Thompson

Part of the Gardner Aquatic Center was shuttered over the weekend, and everything but the lap pool will be closed later this week due to slippery conditions.

Jeff Stewart, city parks and recreation director, said the pool staff reported an unusual number of slips in the baby pool and in the zero-depth entry to the splash area.

“Obviously, in wet conditions, you might expect some slips, but this was more than you would expect,” Stewart said.

Although there haven’t been any serious injuries, Stewart said one person did slip and fall and hit his head. That individual is fine, but safety is the biggest priority for the parks and recreation department.

“When you have something like that, there’s certainly the potential for greater injury. That’s why we’re taking the approach that we are,” Stewart explained.

Friday afternoon, pool officials closed the baby pool and the zero-depth entry, though the deeper parts of the splash area, lazy river and slides remained open. They also ordered new paint for the area that will be mixed with fine sand.

Pool officials were hopeful the paint would arrive by Tuesday, June 7. Once it arrives, Stewart said parks and recreation crew members will work throughout the night to drain the shallow parts of the pool and paint it with sand mix.

Draining the shallow areas will result in low water levels throughout the other areas of the pool, including the slides and lazy river. During that time, only the lap pool, also known as the old pool, will remain open, but the aquatic center elements will be closed to the public.

Once the pool is painted, swimmers will have to wait at least 72 hours as the paint dries and water chemicals are balanced. Officials anticipate re-opening the entire pool by Saturday of this week.

Even with the closure of the zero-depth entry and the baby pool, attendance was higher than anticipated last weekend, but Stewart expects lower attendance numbers this week as the slides, splash play area and lazy river are shuttered.

Parks and Recreation officials on Monday were still trying to nail down changes to pool programming during the time the aquatic center elements are closed. During the evening hours, swimming lessons and adult swim typically occur in the lap pool, while the aquatic center elements remain open for business.

The pool was repainted this summer using similar specifications to the ones used when the facility first opened in 2007.

“Our concrete in those areas is not a smooth concrete, but the paint did make it slick,” Stewart said. “We’re choosing to address it now instead of waiting.”

On the Web
Gardner Aquatic Center: www.gardnerkansas.gov/pool


  1. Duh………….where is the the city’s risk management????? Sand should be mixed with pool paint since Day 1………darn lucky that kid that fell and hit his head hasn’t ended up with a costly lawsuit for the citizens…….guess they needed to hire a consultant at citizen expense to tell them about this fundamental safeguard……..

  2. Jared Taylor says:

    Considering that the majority of the pool, where families and their small children play, is closed by no fault of the paying patrons the Parks and Rec department should consider refunds. The citizens of Gardner pay twice for the pool, once in their taxes and two by their yearly dues.

    If not refunds than vouchers should be issued of some sort to make it whole.

  3. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Another concern should be the disruption of income for many of the seasonal aquatic center employees, who are primarily students from our local schools.

  4. GardnerPride says:

    I disagree Jared. This appears to have been an unforseen circumstance, and one that will only inconvenience the public for 4-6 days. While my son and I were certainly disappointed to be turned away Monday evening, I certainly don’t expect any sort of refund on the city’s part. We have the rest of the summer to make up for the lost time.

    Jerry, I can appreciate your concern, but such are the risks with being hourly summer help.

    I believe you are both trying to make more out of the issue than necessary. I applaud the staff for taking the necessary steps to insure that the patrons safety is priority number 1.

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I find it rather ironic that just above these comments, as I currently view this page, is an advertisement offering for a limited time only a $13,999 Aquatic Fitness Swim Spa — just the ticket during these distressed economic times.

  6. Don't drink the Kool-aid says:

    GardnerPride, I really do not mean to be rude but you may want to lay off the Gardner City Kool-Aid. This was not an unforseen circumstance, making the bottom of the pool slip resistant is not a crap shoot. There were specific steps that could and should have been taken both before and after the paint was applied to ensure our childrens safety. Children and adults were falling left and right the first weekend and it was reported repeatedly by patrons and employees to the management and still nothing was done until a child was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. Then, and only then they decided “hey we might want to do something about this.” This is unfortunate for the summer employees because it could have been avoided. You are right though, the staff did do their part to make our safety priority one, but those in charge did not.

  7. This was something that should never have happened. It should have been done RIGHT from Day 1 because it is such an important safety issue but, of course, here in Gardner, city staff is never held accountable……my list gets longer by the year of the foulups and they continue because there is no accountability – I continue to see the usual lame excuses and the people pay for the goofs and something like this one could have been really serious. I would hate to see anyone hurt or possibly die plus the possible costs involved for the citizens but you are whistling to the wind to ever get anything done about things of this nature and more such as city vehicles idling by the hour and not even being used for any purpose and costing us plenty for fuel costs and creating such pollution or allowing pit bulls in the city of Gardner – we will just continue to hear statements such as we will take care of that…………yeah, sure……..give another permit for a mini-horse, tiger, alligator, etc., etc. since as a city employee I am not informed as to ordinances on the books………..wait until some pit bull mutilates a child or an adult and you get handed a nice big, fat lawsuit against the city which could prove to be extremely costly especially if it is found the city showed gross negligence which opens the door to punitive damages……….

  8. Just as concerned says:

    So it is the city staff that messed up? They bought paint that is designed for use in a pool, they followed the instructions to apply to paint to the pool. They were trying to maintain a wonderful facility that we have here in Gardner. Then the pool opens and it is discovered that this particular paint becomes excessively slippery when it is wet. Sounds to me like an issue with the company that the paint was purchased from.

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