Merriam residents have a shiny new community center in their future

Merriam residents will soon be able to enjoy a new, 66,000-square-foot community center equipped with indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a full-sized gym.

According to the Johnson County Board of Elections, more than half of Merriam voters who cast mail-in ballots — 67.5 percent of the 2,490 who voted — want a new community center.

The Sept. 15 results are unofficial and will be reviewed and certified by the board on Sept. 20. The new site, which will be located at Vavra Park, at 6040 Slater St., will cost the city $30 million. To fund the new center, the city will issue 10-year bonds of up to $24 million. To pay for the bonds, Merriam residents will pay a quarter-cent sales tax over 10 years. The new sales tax will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Renovations to the existing facility would have cost the city around $20 million.

Among the amenities at the new facility are an indoor and outdoor pool, a state-of-the art fitness center, an indoor walking track and a child watch area. It will also include free WiFi and a lounge area.

The city conducted a community survey in 2015 and a recreation survey in 2016 to determine what services and recreational activities were most important to Merriam residents. In the surveys, 87 percent of residents said it was important to support a community center while 83 percent said it was important to support a pool.

Among the most desirable facilities were an indoor pool, an indoor walking trail and a gym, said City Administrator Chris Engel.

(Read more: KC Star Local News)