A review of hundreds of comments posted in response to the City of Bellevue's online aquatics survey shows residents frequently head to Papillion or Plattsmouth in search of water fun.

Also, overwhelming dissatisfaction exists with the condition, the amenities and even the location of Bellevue's five swimming pools.

It was not all brickbats for the city, however.

The existing aquatics program has some fans, although they constituted a small portion of respondents.

One poster living in Papillion said she brings her children to Bellevue because the Papio Bay water park is always crowded.

A second poster said large facilities like Papio Bay lack neighborhood flavor.

“My family and I love the city's pools,” the poster said. “We love the neighborhood feel of the pools and probably would not attend a facility if the city chose to build one similar to Papio Bay.”

Larkin Aquatics of Kansas City, Mo., presented the results of a $26,000 aquatics study to the Bellevue City Council July 22.

The study recommended the city either embark on a wholesale renovation of its five pools, four of which were found to be in a state of significant deterioration, or else close them all and build a new aquatics program.

That new program, the report suggested, should consist of two new pools and three splash pads.

The cost of renovating was set at $2.2 million, with the cost of a new aquatics program ranging from $5 million to $8.5 million.

The study concluded the option of building new facilities, with a pool in the northeast, another in the southwest, and three splash pads scattered around the city, best reflected public input.

Certainly, dissatisfaction with existing facilities was the dominant theme among survey respondents.

“We only go to the Bellevue pools for swim lessons,” read one post. “We go to Plattsmouth for leisure time.”

“I usually go to Papio Bay in Papillion,” posted someone else.

“It is nicer/updated with a zero-depth pool. It is more of a water park, which Bellevue desperately needs!”

“Our family has started going to Papio Bay in Papillion and Twin Rivers in Plattsmouth,” wrote another. “The pools are in better condition and are a lot more fun for the family, with zero-depth, slides, diving boards, and ample areas to sit/lay out.”

The rush to enjoy the more sophisticated facilities offered by cities smaller than Bellevue was fueled by more than just the unremarkable nature of Bellevue's program.

There were many stinging comments about the quality of changing rooms, bathrooms and poolside decks.

Words like “dirty,” “rundown,” “unsanitary” and even “disgusting” were used.

Some posters were struck that a city with more than 50,000 people should have no water park or splash pads.

The unfriendliness of Bellevue's pool network to handicapped persons drew frequent rebuke.

That deficiency was also cited by the Larkin Aquatics consultants, who noted all five of the city's pools fail to meet standards mandated by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other posters complained just one of Bellevue's five swimming pools is located in the western half of the city, an imbalance reflecting Bellevue's lack of expansion west of Fort Crook Road during the decades when most of the pools were built.

“PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE put some pools west of the Kennedy Freeway!!” intoned yet another respondent. “Currently there are no pools within close range from west Bellevue residents. It's ridiculous that all the pools are in east Bellevue.”

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