Oakland neighbors will wait for answers, on the fate of Billard Park pool

Crews on Friday morning power wash the pool at Oakland Billard Park after it was damaged...
Crews on Friday morning power wash the pool at Oakland Billard Park after it was damaged recently by vandals.(Phil Anderson)
Published: Jun. 5, 2022 at 9:37 PM CDT
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TOPEKA (WIBW) -- No one’s jumped into the pool at Billard Park for a long time, but no one needed to rally support for a possible new, smaller pool there.

Neighbors called off a planned Sunday evening rally at 6pm. Organizers cited a need to give Shawnee County Parks and Recreation time to provide some answers and new information on the pool and park’s future after Parks and Rec surveyed residents living near the park and in the area.

“We didn’t want to make it sound like we were targeting them,” Nancy Hedges said Sunday evening just before the planned start time.

Hedges says the survey canvassed the Topekans on whether they would like the pool filled in altogether, or have them construct a smaller pool... or something even smaller.. a splash pad.

“We don’t want the pool area filled in, and we definitely don’t want a splash pad,” Hedges also says.

The survey looks ahead to next summer, while problems last December and this spring drew the ire of the residents on Friday. Electricity is back on in the west end of the pool after the park was hit by high winds from a mid-December storm, knocking out the power transformer. Evergy reported this year’s supply chain problems seriously delayed delivery of a new transformer for Billard Park. When the pool was drained, there was also evidence of vandalism and graffiti. Billard Park patrons wanted to know how that had happened, and why Parks and Recreation hadn’t notified them and started repairs earlier.

County Parks and Rec said they’re crews remain busy cleaning up from the vandals and graffiti painters. They’re replacing very worn bathroom sinks and fixtures. P&R told 13 News Friday the vandalism had not been reported, and crews didn’t discover it until they went to prep the pool for reopening, planned for Memorial Day.

The pool in the Oakland area is the only county pool that’s not open this summer. All the other swimming areas, and the Adventure Cove spot at Lake Shawnee are open for swimmers this summer.

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