The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 4, 2012

Popular pool closes today; work on new aquatic center may begin soon

Today is the last chance to make a splash in the existing Schifferdecker Park pool.

It will close for the season at 6 p.m. and is scheduled this fall to be demolished to make way for a new $5.8 million aquatic center if the Joplin City Council moves forward with plans for it on Monday.

“I compare it to the coming down of the old St. John’s hospital,” said Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean. “It has stood its ground. It has served its purpose. It has become a landmark and people have their memories of it. But now it is making way for the growth of Joplin.

“We’re expanding Joplin from what we have known it as, and the new aquatic center is going to allow a lot more amenities for families to come and enjoy,” she said.

Proposed plans for the new aquatic center are to be shown to the council at its informal meeting on Monday, when parks director Chris Cotten will ask for  authorization to proceed with requesting bids for tearing out the pool and building the new one. The plans are based on public input sessions held earlier this year.

If the OK comes, work will proceed with demolition later this year and construction aimed at having the new pool ready for next year’s swim season.

“It’s going to be a very nice facility,” Cotten said of the proposed plan. “I can tell you the new project will have a lazy river. We’re intending to put in four water slides, one a family slide. It will have a low dive and high dive and it will have a 50-meter competition combined with a 25-yard competition pool,” Cotten said.

“We do have some other things we would like to do depending on the construction costs.”


Jennifer Martucci, president of the Joplin Swim Team, said it’s a bittersweet feeling.

“The city has been gracious enough to leave it open for our swim team and we appreciate that,” she said.

“It’s a little bit sad to see it go, because we’ve been there so long but we’re really excited about the new pool.”

There were 150 kids involved in this year’s swim team. They gave up having an annual swim meet this year so they could invite visitors to the new one next year.

Martucci said she thinks the proposed plan is a good one. “It’s a great choice as far as where to put it. Accessibility is going to be good,” she said.

Cotten said that it seems early in the season to close a pool but that some lifeguards are preparing to return to college and there are not enough to staff all three pools for the rest of the month.

Joplin investments advisor Kevin Russell was one of those college student lifeguards in 1987.

“We had a big, platform high dive then and a low drive. It was a great diving area,” he said. “It was jampacked everyday,” he said of the pool.

Joplin resident Donna Ashford has appreciated Schifferdecker’s wading pool because it is the only pool where her disabled granddaughter, who has only one leg, could safely play and swim.

“She could play in the kiddie pool and hop all the way or swim across all of it. The other pools are slanted and by the time she gets in the deep water, she has nothing to stabilize herself. So I love Schifferdecker Pool, the kiddie pool, just because of it being able to take care of the disabled children and the handicapped.”

Cotten said plans for the new pool adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act. One provision for the disabled is a ramp with a guardrail to provide entry, he said.

Old Swimming Hole

Generations of Joplin residents have had a pool to enjoy at Schifferdecker Park, which is named for the donor of the park land — early day businessman Charles Schifferdecker.

 “I do think there have been water features in the park at least 100 years,” said Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex, which is next to the pool. “I think even possibly it’s a little abstract where the locations of all the pools were. They could have been in slightly different locations than the one now.”

 Schifferdecker bought a 160-acre dairy farm and shortly after the turn of the last century leased 10 acres of it to partners of the Joplin and Pittsburg Electric Railway Co., who built the Schifferdecker Electric Park there along with the first pool, called the ‘old swimming hole,” in 1909.

 The park included a skating rink, a boating lagoon, a beer garden, elaborate gates and a 125-foot tower all lined with electric lights — 40,000 bulbs in all. At the parks’ grand opening on June 10, 1909, 20 railroad cars of people — 12,000 in all — were reported to have come to what the Joplin Globe described then as the “Coney Island of the Missouri-Kansas mining district.”

 It was not long before the park’s lighted appeal faded. Workaday miners could not afford both the trolley fee and admission to the Electric Park and by 1912, the “Coney Island” part of the park closed. Schifferdecker took the land back and deeded 40 acres to the city, requiring that it be operated perpetually as a free public park.

In order to use the park in a cost-effective manner, the city tore down the amusement rides and light tower and invested in fixing up the pool, a dance hall, playground equipment and a baseball diamond.

In 1932 a new pool was built, which was replaced with the existing pool in 1976.

“It was one of the only pools we had in town of any size. The rest were smaller,” said Councilman Bill Scearce, who at the time was the city’s parks and recreation director. “It was built as a competitive swimming pool. At the time, 50-meter swimming pools were in vogue and it was a 50-meter pool.”

The effort to build the existing pool hit a bump, Scearce remembers.

“The interesting thing about the pool is it has different depths. That’s because we hit chert,” when excavating, “and we raised the level of the diving area, which was unusual but we managed to do it,” to compensate, Scearce said.

Scearce is eager to see the final plans as is the mayor.

“It’s going to be a big win for Joplin,” to build the new aquatic center, Colbert-Kean said. “We want to make it the best we can for our citizens,” who have supported a quarter-cent parks and stormwater tax for parks projects like the aquatic center.

As for seeing the existing pool close today, “It’s a bittersweet goodbye and an exciting hello,” to a new one, the mayor said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Jasper County Commission reviews traffic plans

    The Jasper County Commission will hold public hearings today and Thursday on a number of traffic changes proposed in the county. No one spoke when the first hearing was held Tuesday as part of the regular commission meeting, according to Jim Honey, Eastern District associate commissioner.

    July 22, 2014

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Parents can get help with school supplies

    I don’t know much about demographics other than the fact that I no longer belong to a “targeted demographic.” When I was younger, I was bombarded by commercials and ads from companies that were trying to sell me things that I not only needed but wanted.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter