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December 03rd, 2020

minde and quint cityCity Recreation Director Matt Quint, left, and Adventure Bay Water Park Manager Daniel Minde talk to the Liberal City Commission Tuesday afternoon about future plans for the McCray Pool. The pool was donated to the city by the pool’s board of directors. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The citizens of Liberal will have a new swimming hole to visit next summer thanks to a decision by the Liberal City Commission at its most recent meeting Tuesday afternoon. 

The commission approved accepting the donation of the McCray Pool to the city as one of the its agenda items Tuesday afternoon. 

“The McCray Pool Board of Directors had a meeting for stockholders of McCray Pool Sept. 29. The purpose of the meeting was to decide whether to renew our lease with the City of Liberal,” Kris Koerner, a member of the McCray Pool Board of Directors said. “We lease the land within McCray Park for $1 per year and have done that since 1973, renewing our lease for 10 years at a time. We own the concrete pool, buildings, equipment, fixtures, etc., and pay property taxes each year on those items. Early stockholders managed the construction of the pool back in 1973 and throughout the years, we’ve allowed homeowners in the McCray addition to buy in and become stockholders. Our most current lease expired Dec. 31, 2019, and we have been operating this past summer outside a lease. At the meeting, the board recommended we not renew our lease. Our non-profit status is no longer legitimate and hasn’t been for nearly 20 years. Property taxes are ever increasing and due every year regardless of whether we open the pool or not. Pool rule violations are numerous and extreme, including the gate constantly being left open and/or unlocked, several unsupervised children under the age of 16, members not signing in or signing in and accounting for all guests and paying for them. Distractions are ever increasing. Cell phones, among other things, can draw attention away from pool swimmers drifting into the deep end of the pool. There’s also a lack of member involvement, generally it’s two or three volunteers doing 90 percent of the work.”

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Ultimately, Koerner said, the proposal came about to donate the pool to the city. 

“We reached out to Matt Quint with the Recreation Department and he told us he proposes to take over operations of the pool, staff it with lifeguards and supervisors and make it open to the public,” Koerner said. “He felt confident he could make this happen, which is why we believe the pool will be left in good hands. We may not have suggested not renewing our lease had that not been the case. At our meeting, we had two people in favor of the option of renewing the lease, and the other 14 votes were for the option of not renewing it. As per our original lease, we have left the pool in ‘good repair.’ As it is now, it could be refilled and fully operational in the spring with no serious intervention needed. However, it is due for some upgrades and improvements, something we can’t afford or justify with our amount of income. The decision was made to donate the pool, buildings, equipment, etc. to the City of Liberal with the intent that it continues to operate and serve the citizens of Liberal in some capacity.”

“Another problem is there are several stockholders who own their home and the stock came with the home, but they had no use for the pool, so why should they pay $175 each summer when they don’t have anyone using it?” Rhonda Eichman,  treasurer of the McCray Pool Board of Directors, added. “So the list of our current stockholders who are up on their dues has gotten smaller and smaller, and it takes a lot of people to run that pool, and Kris has done pretty much everything with it from the chemicals to painting and trying to police it, things like that.” 

Adventure Bay Water Park Manager Daniel Minde then spoke to the commission about plans and needs for the pool. 

“We’ve come up with a plan based on information we’ve gathered from the association as far as costs and things like that and some of the pros and cons we came up with,” Minde said. “Some of the pros include it will be a pool facility for the south side of town, meaning they wouldn’t have to go to the big water park just for a swim. And since the pool is right next to the Recreation Center, it will allow the Recreation Department increased programming options, including adult swim nights and expansion of swimming lessons – we’re not now allowed to teach diving skills because the big pool at Adventure Bay is only 5 feet deep and the McCray Pool is 9 feet deep. There also wouldn’t be a need for any additional staff, we’d have some of the Adventure Bay staff rotate between the two pools and we could do that easily with the staff I hire at the water park every year, and we’d be able to keep in touch with each other at all times to make sure everything is going okay at both places. Some of the things we’d need is a new filter, the current one is quite old and needs replaced. We’d also need to add some cameras, phone and Internet so we could easily keep track of everything, and our time clock system is also Internet-based. There would also need to be some additional training for some of the staff so they can be certified as full lifeguards, and the McCray Pool also needs a new chlorinator.”

“And if the city takes it over, the entire community will be able to use it, and not just the people who live in that area,” Eichman added. “It was always kind of difficult explaining why one person had to pay more than $300 but another person had to pay only $175.”

Recreation Director Matt Quint added the McCray Pool would work better for smaller parties and said the plan is to charge $2 for admission per person and have limited concessions available. Ultimately, the commission voted 4-1 (with commissioner Chris Linenbroker voting no) to the pool donation. 

“We thank the city for its cooperation throughout the years. The pool will be 50 years old in 2023 and hopefully, we can celebrate and cut a ribbon with a renovated McCray Pool for all the citizens of Liberal,” Koerner said. 

“We should definitely keep our eye on this and make sure we keep track of all expenditures and everything else so moving forward, we can determine if this is still an good investment for us,” Liberal Vice Mayor Taylor Harden said. 

In other business, the commission approved two CDBG-CV business from Sieber’s Palace salon (for $14,107) and My Dream Boutique (for $4,571). The commission also approved an additional $50,000 for the Senior Citizen Program which provides funds for emergency weatherizations, and emergency and exterior repairs. The commission also approved a bucket truck for the Traffic Maintenance Department from Southern Pioneer Electric, and approved  to add a promotional line item not to exceed $5,000 in the annual budget. To conclude his report, City Manager Calvin Burke removed the title Interim from Police Chief William Cutshall’s title, and formally introduced him as the new full time chief. 

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