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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2012

B.G. pool to be treated to nostalgic send-off

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bowling Green Municipal Swimming Pool on July 18,1966. Bowling Green Municipal Swimming Pool on July 18,1966.
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BOWLING GREEN — Back in the 1960s, the swimming pool at City Park was more than a place to cool off.

Every week, 400 or so high school students showed up for a "record hop on the roof of the park bath house," according to a 1966 story in The Blade.

"Their main interest is dancing," Dorothy Joyce, who helped run summer recreation programs at the time with her husband, Eli, told the newspaper.

The city is reviving the tradition for the last day the pool will be open before it is demolished and replaced with a fancy new aquatic center.

"They used to have bands and dancing on the roof of the pool house in years gone by. Obviously the pool house roof is not in any shape to have people on top of it, but we will have dancing around the pool deck," said Michelle Grigore, city parks and recreation director.

The pool will be open for the last time for swimmers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Then, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the public is invited to "Rock the Pool — One Last Time," a dance and dinner to say good-bye to the old pool and raise a few bucks for the new one.

Tickets are $25, with proceeds going toward purchase of a splash feature at the new pool.

City voters approved a 0.6-mill, 20-year bond issue intended to raise close to $4 million for the new pool. But Ms. Grigore said the architects who designed it, Brandstetter Carroll, now estimate the total cost could run as high as $4.2 million.

When the city solicits construction bids this month, it will ask for prices on several items that could be added if the money is there, left out if it isn't.

"What we're doing is scaling back the project, so that it's within the amount of money we're anticipating collecting through the levy," said John Fawcett, city administrator.

"We're hoping that the project's funding can be supplemented by contributions, and there will be an auction of some of the old pool property."

He said the city would not contribute toward the project.

"We have a lot of alternate bids, so we'll hopefully get good bids and be able to add some things that have been taken out, but if it comes in extremely high we'll have to take a step back and reconfigure the pool to fit the budget we've got," he said.

Ms. Grigore said "Rock the Pool" will be a way to "eke out a little more money for these alternates. That's part of the reason. The other is we wanted to have a party to send this thing to its grave."

The new outdoor pool was proposed to voters after years of surveys and studies about what to do with the aging and increasingly costly pool at City Park. The original pool was built in 1930 and was greatly expanded and improved in 1963.

The new facility is to include lap lanes, a "zero entry" area where swimmers can walk into the pool, a splash pad and splash toys, slides, and a bathhouse. It also was designed with areas where swimmers — and swimmers' parents — can seek shelter from the sun. The current pool has no shade, which makes the pool less appealing during extreme heat.

"Attendance has actually been down this summer," Ms. Grigore said. "I was surprised because it was so warm, but I think it's just too hot."

The pool had about 7,000 visitors between May 1 and July 31, down about 1,100 for the same period last summer.

Ms. Grigore said the pool is expected to be demolished in early September, with the new pool's construction possibly starting later that month. If all goes as planned, the new pool could be ready to open next June.

The city is asking residents to submit photos taken over the years at the pool to poolmemories@bgohio.org. More information about "Rock the Pool" is available at bgohio.org/departments/parks-and-recreation.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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