Pool-decision protest: Valley Center leaders urged to reconsider pool closing

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KWCH) Two weeks after city leaders made a difficult decision to close the public pool for the summer, kids in Valley Center Monday stood outside the pool for hours, protesting for change.

Twelve-year-old Mason Robles helped to organize the protest, asking city leaders to reconsider the vote. On the timeline with the governor's plan to reopen Kansas, June 1 is the earliest public pools can open.

Some cities like Goddard and Augusta last week shared plans to reopen their pools.

For Valley Center, the decision came down to safety concerns, challenges to maintain social distancing, extra work needed to keep the pool and surrounding area sanitized at all times, and the issue of more lost revenue with a shortened season paired with higher costs for extra maintenance.

The decision did not set well with some, including kids preparing to start their summer break this week. Monday, about two dozen of them took part in the protest, urging a reversal of the city council's May 5 vote.

"We got a petition going, and I think we have over a thousand signatures now, and we're not trying to offend anybody or be rude, we just (would) like the vote reconsidered," says Quinn Fehrenbach, among the group gathered outside the pool Monday evening.

The pool's closure is a struggle for parents, too.

"A lot of kids, their parents work during the day, and this is where they come," Quinn's mother, Melissa Fehrenbach says. "They come to the park, they go to Breezy's and get a snow cone, they swing by Big Larry's (popular burger restaurant), they do business here. I don't know what will happen."

Monday night's protest comes ahead of Valley Center's next city council meeting on Tuesday. As of Monday night, it's unclear if council members could reverse their decision on closing the city's pool for the summer.

Another issue for city leaders is concern that Kansas Governor Laura Kelly could again postpone Phase 2 of the plan to reopen Kansas' economy. That second phase is where public pools have the green light to open.