WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Seven-year-old Ava Vowiell has her fingers crossed, hoping Webb City residents will take the plunge this spring and agree to fund an aquatic center — the community’s first swimming pool in nearly 40 years.
During the summer, Ava, her 12-year-old brother and their friends go swimming about four times a month, transported by their mother.
“There’s no pool in Webb City, so we go to a Carl Junction pool,” Ava said.
During a meeting on Dec. 23, the City Council approved by a vote of 6-0 the first reading of a proposed $2.5 million bond issue for the construction of an aquatic center. The council will vote again Monday on whether to place the plan on the April 8 ballot.
The bond issue, if approved, would raise residents’ property taxes.
A proposed location for the pool is in King Jack Park, near land that is being reclaimed as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup of mining waste in the area. An estimated 23 acres of park land will be reclaimed by that project.
The proposal is receiving mixed reviews from residents.
Tom Yow said he normally votes against tax increases of any kind, but he wants his three grandchildren in Webb City to have the option to go to a local pool.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer,” Yow said. “It would just make sense to have a pool here. I think you would get your money back.”
Gary Spear said he and his wife, Trudy, both think there is not a way to justify spending that amount of money on a city swimming pool.
“We could use that money for other stuff,” Spear said, citing improving city streets as one example.
Jeanne Newby said she cherishes her childhood memories of swimming at a Webb City pool that used to be located in Hatten Park.
“I grew up at that swimming pool,” said Newby, who has been writing a history column for the Webb City Sentinel for about 25 years.
In the late 1930s, an apartment building that was previously part of a college was torn down, and the basement was transformed into a swimming pool.
“It worked really well,” Newby said, adding that the pool sloped from a 2-foot depth to 13 feet.
The pool remained open until the mid-1970s, when it was closed because of lack of funding for upkeep, she said.