Jones Aquatic Center

The Emporia City Commission tabled an agreement with the Emporia Recreation Commission to operate the Jones Aquatic Center for the 2020 season during a Wednesday evening action session.

The ERC has operated the Jones Aquatic Center Complex for the City of Emporia for many years. With the agreement, the City of Emporia would pay all of the utilities and agree to recoup up to $47,000 to ERC should a negative balance occur at the end of the summer’s operation.

This discussion and agreement typically takes place in March, however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the ERC to put the brakes on those discussions.

The recreation commission had previously tabled a discussion on opening the aquatic center during its Board of Directors meeting Monday evening, holding off on any decisions until the city had committed to opening the pool or not during the phased reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the state moved into a modified version of Phase 2 Friday, the earliest the aquatic center could open would be June 8 — nearly two weeks later than it’s usual Memorial Day weekend scheduled opening.

Mayor Danny Giefer, who sits on the ERC Board of Directors, said the Jones Aquatic Center was considering a modified schedule if it was able to open.

“They would be open for two hours and at the end of two hours, everybody would leave and they would do cleaning for one hour,” he said. “Everybody would leave the premises and then they’ll open up for another two hours. Chairs would be gone, inflatables will be out of the pool.”

Giefer said it had not been decided whether or not the “lazy river” would be open.

Last year, the average number of participants per day at the aquatic center was 170, which Giefer said did not present a problem to ERC staff as they look at the possibility of maintaining social distancing and other guidelines throughout the summer.

City Manager Mark McAnarney said there are many city pools that have already decided not to open, such as those in the Johnson County area. Other cities are waiting for more information before making decisions.

Commissioners tabled the discussion and will continue it next week, at which point action can be taken.

The commission also approved the adoption of a comprehensive plan document to govern the City of Emporia Welfare Benefits Plan. The document makes it easier to review employee benefits information.

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