The day wasn’t quite hot, but that didn’t stop over 430 people from making the opening of Wauseon’s new pool on Monday a splashy affair.
The first dips into the clear water during the day-long free swim didn’t cause a tide of fanfare. The real celebration will take place Monday, June 12, during an official dedication ceremony. The dedication is being held back to allow workers to make a few last-minute, minor adjustments to the project.
However, the soft opening, which was announced quickly Sunday evening, didn’t hold back throngs of residents. They dove in and made themselves at home after a 10-year absence of public swimming facilities in Wauseon.
“It’s an icon for the city,” Mayor Kathy Huner said. In her enthusiasm, she visited the pool site in Reighard Park three times on Monday, each time watching the crowd of swimmers grow.
“It shows how much the community cares about the kids,” she said. “The citizens wanted it. It was just a matter of how do we get this built.”
They resolved that conundrum by passing Issue 14, an additional five-year, 2.6-mill Parks and Recreation levy that began generating $290,483 annually in 2016. The levy has funded pool construction and amenities, and renovated the pool house.
In addition, the public voted where the pool would be located. “They wanted to support their kids and community by passing it, and showing their excitement by voicing their opinion,” Huner said.
The new pool, which features a standard pool, a laned pool for competitions, and a shallow pool for younger children, also comes with a slide, a concession stand, and a new bicycle rack built by Public Works employee William Reckner. Designed by the Astro Pool Company in Mansfield, Ohio, it replaces the city’s original pool, which occupied the same space in Reighard Park. That one was built in 1941 as part of the government’s Works Progress Administration, and closed in 2008 due to deterioration.
Wauseon City Council President Jeff Stiriz said the citizens of Wauseon deserve a pool.
“It gives people something to do, like the ball fields and soccer fields,” he said. “(And) it will draw people who think, ‘Do we move to Wauseon?’”
Councilor Shane Chamberlin said the pool is a wonderful addition to the community, “something the youth has been missing out on over the past few years. Driving down by the park, hearing that noise coming from the pool area, is a great thing to hear.”
Chamberlin also believes the pool adds personality to Wauseon. “It will bring folks to the city who will not only visit the pool but might contribute to the local economy,” he said.
His wife, Keri Chamberlin, said, “I’m really excited that it gives the youth something to do, and families something to do together. It just gives the youth one more thing to do in the summer, to stay out of trouble, and to keep busy and exercising. Youth first, always.”
Bailey McGuire, a 15-year-old lifeguard for the pool and a member of the Wauseon diving team, has only faint memories of the original pool. After executing a dive for her coach during a practice session on Tuesday, Bailey surveyed her surroundings.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s nice. It’s fun to be here.”
During a card game at the Fulton County Senior Center on Clinton Street, James Smith said, “It’s good for the community, for the kids.” He said while it took time for the city “to open their pockets up and get going with it,” in the end it all proved to be good.
Huner said she’s had notices about the new pool on her personal Facebook page from former Wauseon residents now living as far away as Texas and California.
“They’re so proud that Wauseon thought of the kids and the family again,” she said. “There was no doubt there was going to be another pool. It was just a matter of when and how.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.