Like many communities throughout the United States, Salina, Kansas was faced with a dilemma in 2008 over what to do with their aging outdoor swimming pool.

Each year the swimming pool required more and more time and resources just to open for crowds of fewer and fewer people. Every year the pool required a larger subsidy from the general fund just to cover operations and maintenance expenses. The swimming pool was described by most residents as old, outdated, and just plain boring.

Although the pool had lost its popularity and was expensive to maintain relative to the number of residents utilizing the facility, there appeared to be little public interest in funding a solution to the problem.  Two sales tax measures to replace the pool had failed in recent years. City officials knew that to resolve their outdoor swimming pool dilemma, a more appealing planning and funding effort would have to be developed before the public would buy into the plan.

Salina is a city with a population of approximately 50,000 located in the central part of Kansas. Being one of the largest cities in the region, Salina has long been a retail hub with a solid sales tax base.  Salina also has a rich variety of cultural and recreational amenities that make it a destination point for people throughout the surrounding region.

Other, somewhat smaller communities in the surrounding area, had in recent years replaced their aging swimming pool facilities with modern aquatic centers. These newer facilities included amenities that have become more standard in recent years, such as zero-depth entries and shallow-water recreation with various water-play elements. Compared to Salina’s old rectangular-shaped deep-water pool, the surrounding pools were worlds apart in excitement and aquatic program offerings.

Since Salina’s swimming pool was over 50 years old with a mundane rectangular shape and no modern features, most Salina residents were traveling to surrounding communities to enjoy more modern and exciting pools. This was contrary to most other municipal amenities through which Salina had exhibited foreword thinking. The pool had become Salina’s albatross and was not an area of regional leadership for the City.

City staff and elected officials decided it was time to change the situation and resume their place as a destination for such recreational amenities. The belief was that resuming leadership in swimming and water recreation goes hand-in-hand with being a regional leader in other aspects of life, such as retail commerce.

To rectify the situation and develop a successful sales tax measure to fund a new outdoor aquatic facility, in the summer of 2008 the City of Salina hired Aquatic Design Consultants, Inc. to help them plan, promote, design and construct a modern aquatic facility. The new facility would have to meet the needs and expectations of all Salina residents regardless of age or swimming abilities.

One of the first steps in the planning process for a new aquatic complex was development of a list of aquatic programming needs and facility performance goals unique to Salina. During this planning process, several key needs and performance goals were developed for the facility, including:

  • The facility must satisfy all traditional municipal aquatic programming needs such as swimming lessons, swim team practices and meets, lap swimming, and water exercising like aqua aerobics, water weights, and water walking.
  • The facility must provide recreation activities for all age groups, from the community’s valued senior citizens to its toddlers.
  • The facility must provide easy access and use for people of all physical abilities and swimming abilities. This required that the facility not just meet ADA requirements, but actually be designed to make ease of use truly equal for all people.
  • The facility must operate close to revenue neutral by covering its annual operations and maintenance expenses through revenues generated by the facility.
  • The facility must serve as a regional draw to make the Salina waterpark “the place to be”.
  • The facility must be promoted within the community to ensure passage of the sales tax measure vote for capital funding.
  • The facility must be constructed of high-quality materials and equipment for efficient long-term use and reliability.
  • The facility must be clean, safe, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing to all patrons.

To involve the public in the planning process, a project planning and promotion website was developed and updated at every stage of planning effort, up to the sales tax measure vote. The website initially included an online survey form that allowed the community to give their opinions of the project and the types of desired amenities for the facility.

Over 3,000 people responded to the survey, which not only helped customize the facility to the desires of the residents, but also facilitated participation and buy-in from the public from the start. This was a huge factor in the ultimate success of the vote.

After input was received from the public through the website surveys, Aquatic Design Consultants, Inc.developed a conceptual design to satisfy the desires of the community while maintaining the planning goals established by the City. The design incorporated all of the items viewed as important to residents, while ensuring that Salina’s position as regional leader of aquatic offerings was re-established and financial goals of the facility could be realized.

Once the conceptual design was completed, the project website was updated with 3D renderings and videos of the proposed facility for viewing by voters. The website also presented facts and figures related to the sales tax costs and overall impact to the local economy.

As a side note, even though the national economy was in recession at the time, City Officials, City Staff, and community leaders realized that construction costs for such facilities and bonding rates were the lowest in years. It was clear to everyone involved that investment in a new municipal waterpark for the Salina community would have a reverberating and positive economic impact throughout the local economy.

People coming to town for use of such a premiere facility would also spend money for restaurants, gas, general purchases and hotels. Entering into an economic downturn with a new attraction to bring more people to the community would give the community a new boost at a time when it would be needed the most.

Because of the extensive pubic input and promotional efforts for the aquatic park, the citizens of Salina voted overwhelmingly in November of 2008 to build one of the best and most fun-to-use municipal waterparks in the United States.

The facility was named Kenwood Cove because of its adjacency to the well-known and appreciated Kenwood Park.

Kenwood Cove opened in June of 2010 and averages around 2,100 visitors each day. The facility includes amenities such as:

  • Long, meandering lazy river
  • Custom raging river ride
  • Wave pool
  • High tower slide complex with 5 premiere slides
  • Themed “kiddie play” island with interactive spray/play features
  • Floating obstacle course
  • Adult relaxation area
  • Beach style entries
  • Lap / competition pool
  • High and low diving
  • Themed landscaping throughout
  • Shade structures throughout
  • Full concessions
  • Rental cabanas
  • Family changing rooms
  • State-of-the-art water treatment and filtration systems

To view the facilities official website visit www.KenwoodCove.com

This facility was designed by our firm, Aquatic Design Consultants, Inc. Please feel free to contact Kevin McElyea, 913-937-0025 at our firm if you have any questions or if we can help you in any way.

Below is a short video of the facility: