Groundwork preparation has begun this week following the approval of splash pad project installations for Liberal’s McCray and Mahuron parks. For the McCray splash pad project, this preparation includes the removal of the McCray swimming pool.

City staff explain that the condition of the aging pool infrastructure, as well as low community use, opened the door to explore new alternatives for enhancing the park.

“As recreation preferences change, we have a duty to ensure the taxpayer funds invested in recreational spaces and public facilities reflect those preferences,” Special Projects Manager, Steve Carroll, said. “Having a pool with low visitation, certified lifeguard staff expenses, and increasing operating and repair costs signaled a need for us to close the pool and replace it with a project that would add better value for our residents.”

The 2,200 square foot splash pad area features in-ground and above ground spray features which activate when visitors use the splash pad. The project also includes the installation of covered seating areas for comfort and fencing for added safety.

Splash pads provide a safe, more physically accessible water space for all children than standard pools. While local pools often close due to high school lifeguards’ academic calendars, splash pads do not require staffed supervision and allow for a longer operating season as weather conditions permit.

Both splash pads are to be completed using remaining ARPA dollars and funds from Liberal’s housing and community development portion of the one-cent sales tax.

“Adding a no-cost splash pad to replace the pool at McCray park maintains an equitable distribution of water recreation spaces. We could have easily built our splash pads in any of our parks, but it’s important for us to invest these sales tax dollars to fund projects across our city that benefit our community as a whole,” City Manager, Rusty Varnado, explained. “Building splash pad projects at McCray and Mahuron parks was a conscientious decision made to enhance recreational spaces and quality of life for residents in surrounding neighborhoods.”

The McCray and Mahuron park splash pad projects are expected to open to the public in late summer 2024.