A crew from New Wave Pool and Spas, Omaha, Neb., laid down a finishing coat of diamond bright last week as one of the final steps towards getting Webster’s new swimming pool finished.
Photo by Amanda Fanger
by George Thompson, Reporter and Farmer
The excitement is building as crews put the final touches on Webster’s new swimming pool.
Over five years in the making, the new facility is the result of a lot of dedication and hard work by a group of volunteers who go by the name of Webster Aquatic Venue for Excellence (WAVE). They were determined to replace an old pool built in 1965, which had outlived its life expectancy of 25-30 years by more than a decade.
Last week, WAVE’s ringleader Tom Sannes typified the enthusiasm generating for the day when this $2.3 million project makes its first splash.
“We’re on the cusp of having everything ready,” he said. “It’s a matter of days once the rain stops. Overall we’re very happy with the way things have developed.”
The new 240,000 gallon pool has zero depth entry, five 25 yard lanes, a new bathhouse, more deck space and other features not available in the old facility.
The project was approved by the public in a June 14, 2012 special election by over a two-to-one margin, 467-216. Voters basically said yes o a 20 year, $2.2 million property tax opt out. The facility will be paid off through a combination of sources. WAVE has been conducting a fund raising campaign for the past 18 months and to date has generated well over $967,000, Sannes said.
“We are going to keep going,” he noted. “We hope to top a million dollars. We’re still receiving donations.”
WAVE has used several campaigns to fill their war chest.
Two ongoing fund raisers are the can and paper trailers which keep generating monthly income from recycling. The group also hosted several very successful Tsunami Night fund raisers and raffles.
“We will keep doing Tsunami Nights as long as the community enjoys it,” Sannes added.
Sannes says the latest fund raiser is the Slide King Contest where local businesses have donation jars set up and the one who raises the most money gets to take the inaugural ride down the new waterslide, while the losers have to put on old Speedos before taking a slide. Sannes said more details will be available shortly, butpromises it will be a fun event that will take place at the pool’s June 29 Grand Opening.
Other activities planned for the Grand Opening are an “All-Pool Reunion” of lifeguards and swim team members and a free swim and open house following the dedication ceremony.
The Grand Opening is during Alumni Weekend and will kick off right after the Alumni Parade.
Sannes and pool manager Steve Hairgrove say the new pool will be open more days and hours and be accessible to a lot more people.
“We want everyone to use that place,” Sannes said.
The city and WAVE have worked together to assure the new pool is affordable for kids and families.
“The family season passes are right in line with or lower than any of the communities in the surrounding area,” Sannes said. “We want people to make use of the place – to make it a family destination.”
Hairgrove said the pool hours are 1-5 p.m. and 7-9 Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. weekends. The facility will offer lap swimming, water walking and adult and youth swimming lessons, in addition to open swimming sessions.
The pool manager says the staff has been expanded in anticipation of higher use.
“We have 16 people hired right now, and that’s about double what we used to have,” Hairgrove noted. “It’s going to take more staff to run the new facility. I’m projecting that it will take seven to 10 people per shift. It’s going to be a new challenge because everything is different, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
He also noted one of the first things he did was have the Red Cross come in and tour the facility, make recommendations and come up with a safety plan.
The new pool will open as soon as construction is completed and city workers have a chance to make sure everything is in working order.