By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News
And people said they’d never make it.
City manager Neal Lewis said there was a lot of skepticism last October that the new pool would open by Memorial Day. Construction was complete with a couple weeks to spare, he said of the nearly $1.9 million project that began Oct. 5. The pool’s grand opening is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 28.
A ribbon cutting and tours will lead off the grand opening followed by swimming at 2 p.m. Tickets have been sold for the opportunity to be the first person down the 125-foot water slide and off the three-meter high dive and the one meter low dive. Only 250 tickets were available for Saturday’s “soft opening” swim, Lewis, and proceeds from the grand opening ticket sales will benefit the city rec program.
The staff will get together on Sunday to discuss proper guard placing and other staffing needs based on the soft opening, and the pool will officially open for regular hours on Monday, May 30. Pool hours are 1-5 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m. seven days a week. The new pool is funded by a half-cent sales tax Belleville voters approved last year.
The new heated pool features a zero-depth entry with handicap lift, a tot slide with water structure, a 125-foot water slide, two basketball goals, a three meter high dive and a onemeter low dive.
The pool is family friendly yet suitable for all ages, Lewis said, and has artificial turf areas and three large shade structures – one of which is in the water – to protect young children from hot concrete.
“A mother can sit in the water with a toddler and turn her head and watch her other child coming down the slide or off the boards,” Lewis said.
The new pool facility also has lights to better accommodate evening swims, he said, and five cameras around the pool area will help protect the facility.
A self-activating splash pad has been built just outside the pool.
“I think it’s going to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” Lewis said of the splash pad.
Lewis said water was put in the pool on May 4, and the water temperature was 72 degrees a week before the grand opening. Pool construction was nearly complete by May 13, he said, and sidewalks and sod were added this week.
Carrothers Construction Company, LLC, of Paola, was the general contractor for the new pool. Several local businesses also contributed to the building of the facility, including Alsop Sand Co., of Concordia, Hoge Masonry, Belleville, Abram Ready Mix, Belleville and Miller Construction, of Washington.
“We were glad local businesses benefited from this project,” Lewis said. “Plus, Carrothers had five or six workers who stayed here during the construction, which also benefits the local economy.”
The new pool replaces a 70-year-old pool that was built in Belleville in 1937 with the assistance of the Public Works Administration. The total cost of the “Belleville recreation center”–which included construction of the bandshell in the park, restrooms, tennis courts and fountains–was $67,752 and was accomplished by 101 men in 23 weeks. While the old pool was removed, the PWA bath house remains. The city council has made no decision on how that building will be repurposed.