Dayton to demolish its last outdoor pool. What happened?

The city of Dayton is seeking bids to demolish Fairview pool, the last remaining outdoor public pool in the city. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
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The city of Dayton is seeking bids to demolish Fairview pool, the last remaining outdoor public pool in the city. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The city of Dayton plans to demolish its last remaining outdoor swimming pool, one initially designed to be indoors and now so damaged that officials said it could not open again.

The city is seeking a company to remove the Fairview pool at 2262 Elsmere Ave., which first opened in the summer of 1995 and used to draw thousands of visitors.

Public pools across the nation have disappeared in recent years, oftentimes as part of government budget cuts.

The pool was intended to be used indoors, but the city never completed the project to build an indoor facility, city officials said.

Some residents say they are disappointed that the pool is being removed so soon.

“I know they had problems over there, but that is like wasted tax money,” Jerre Judkins told WHIO-TV.

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The $1.5 million Fairview pool first opened in the summer of 1995 for about a month. Its official grand opening took place in June of the following year.

Fairview used to be one of the most popular pools in the city. In 1998, the facility had about 6,355 visitors.

But the Fairview pool has serious infrastructure issues that would require it being fully removed and replaced, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The pool didn’t open this year. However, the spray park at the Aquatic Center at Fairview Commons was open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The pool and spray park sit side by side.

The city talked to citizens in that neighborhood for about a year to get their feedback, and residents expressed support for removing the pool and expanding the spray park, Whaley said.

The city has set aside $500,000 for the projects, she said. Right now, the spray park has a pirate island-type theme, with features that look like ships and palm trees.

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Multiple neighbors interviewed by this news organization said the pool was damaged because it was not meant for the outdoors, which was a costly mistake.

Stephan Marcellus, Dayton’s recreation manager, confirmed that the pool was supposed to be indoors and that weather conditions damaged its structural integrity over the years.

With Fairview’s demolition, the city will operate just three public pools, all located inside its recreation centers.

Over the years, the city has replaced outdoor public swimming pools with spray parks, which have lower operating costs because they do not need to be staffed by lifeguards. Insuring public pools also can carry a heavy price tag.

The city operated a dozen pools in the late 1990s, including eight outdoor facilities. But that didn’t last.

In 2003, the city decided not to open the Westwood, Orville Wright and Five Oaks outdoor swimming pools, citing shortfalls in the budget.

The city, however, installed four splash parks that year, which officials said would continue to provide cool summer fun, just at a lower cost.

The city gradually closed its pools in favor of adding spray parks. The Bomberger pool was shut down in 2008 and the Burkham Park pool closed in 2010. In 2013, the city approved a contract to demolish four outdoor swimming pools.

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The city now has seven spray parks.

The city’s remaining pools include one at the Greater Dayton Recreation Center at Roosevelt Commons, 2021 W. Third St.

Lohrey Recreation Center, 2366 Glenarm Ave., has the Belmont pool, which can hold 160,000 gallons of water and offers a 1.5-meter diving board.

Northwest Recreation Center, 1600 Princeton Drive, is home to the Dabney pool. The pool is full-sized (276,000 gallons of water) and has 1- and 3-meter diving boards.