With the city of Ellis closing its pool Wednesday due to a big leak, Hays City Commissioners on Thursday decided to help out by offering Ellis residents half-price admission to the Hays Aquatic Park.

“They are great neighbors,” said City Commission Chairman Henry Schwaller IV in suggesting the discount.

“They shop in our community, they are part of our community, and I want them to feel welcome in Hays and do everything we can to help,” Schwaller said.

The Ellis pool, which is set to be replaced in 2020 with construction of a new one, was losing almost 30,000 gallons of water every 2-3 days, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page.

The last day of swimming at the Ellis pool was supposed to be Aug. 17, with an end-of-summer Splash Bash. That day of family water fun, with games and food, now has been relocated to Creekside Park along the banks of Big Creek, and proceeds are going toward the new swimming pool, according to a flyer about the event.

Ellis is one of 11 Kansas cities that in July won Community Development Block Grants from the Kansas Department of Commerce to build new pools. Ellis was approved for $1 million, and will have to match that 40 percent.

The Ellis pool was built during the Great Depression of the 1930s under the federal jobs program, the Works Progress Administration. The life expectancy was estimated at 50 years.

A vinyl liner was installed in 2009 for $76,000 to cover cracks, with a life expectancy through 2024. But it’s been patched many times. A new liner would cost up to $100,000 and there are concerns it would adhere to the crumbling foundation.

The Hays City Commissioners on Thursday during their work session at City Hall gave the OK to city manager Toby Dougherty to use his spending authority to fund the swim discount through the commission’s contingency fund.

Admission to the park is normally $4 for 18 and older, $3 for ages 3-17, and free for 2 and under.

Ellis residents will have to show proof they live in Ellis, with a utility bill, driver’s license, Ellis pool pass or other document.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said City Commissioner Sean Musil.

In proposing the discount, Schwaller referenced the long-fought effort by Hays to get state approval to pipe water from Edwards County for municipal use.

“Ellis is a good neighbor,” Schwaller said. “They’ve been very supportive of us in our pursuit of water in Edwards County. They have water needs. We also share the same aquifer, they pump from the Big Creek aquifer, as well. Their decision to shut the pool and not waste water not only benefits them, it benefits us.”

Hays Aquatic Park, 300 Main St., is open this year through Aug. 11.