By Debby Woodin
Everything was nearly ready for the big splash at Rosedale Community Pool last year when the unthinkable happened.
The Sunday before opening day at the neighborhood-owned pool, board members Kelli Owen and Mary Myers were busy cleaning mats — one of the last chores before the pool was to open on Memorial Day weekend.
That opening never took place.
About 5:20 p.m. that day — May 22 — the wind came up and rain started falling on Owen and Myers as they worked.
“We said, ‘We probably need to be heading home,’” Owen recounted. “We got home just in time.”
She made it to a friend’s basement right before the EF-5 tornado hit.
Myers made it home, too, and huddled in a closet while the grinding winds damaged her house near 26th Street and Kansas Avenue.
It would be several days before Rosedale board members could take a break from helping relatives and friends to check on the pool at 2320 E. 24th St.
“We knew it was in the path,” Owen said.
The twister took the tops off the concession stand and equipment shed, twisted the pump off its foundation, and damaged the pool surface. Pretty much everything was a wreck. Last summer was the first year that the Rosedale pool was not open since it was built in 1969, Owen said.
“Luckily, we were insured,” she added.
Thanks to that insurance settlement and an additional $50 assessment from its members, Rosedale is getting ready to reopen.
“It’s like a brand-new pool” this year, Owen said.
The pool has a new slide; it had been missing a slide for years, Owen said. The high dive had been taken out years ago, but now a new low dive is being installed.
It’s on target for a planned opening on Saturday, May 26.
So are Joplin’s city pools.
Construction crews are making headway on $600,000 worth of repairs that had to be done to the Cunningham Park pool, near 26th Street and Maiden Lane.
Two new slides, donated to Joplin by the city of Fort Scott, Kan., have been installed, and the pool is being resurfaced. Electrical and plumbing repairs are under way, and the bathhouse is getting a makeover.
“We still have one more feature to come” for the pool, Joplin Parks and Recreation Director Chris Cotten said Tuesday. “There was a play feature that was destroyed in the tornado, and we’re coming back with more things.” Those features are a toddler slide, water cannons, cargo nets for climbing and other activities.
“It will be a lot more entertaining for kids than what was there before,” Cotten said.
The plan is for the Cunningham pool to be ready by the city’s traditional opening date, which is the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
“We still have a ways to go,” Cotten said. “It will come right down to the week of Memorial Day to get everything done. There is a lot of damage out there, a lot of things to repair.”
While Rosedale and Cunningham will have their first seasons as repaired and updated pools, it is to be the last one for the existing pool in Schifferdecker Park.
The City Council at its April 16 meeting authorized plans to build a $5.8 million swim center at Schifferdecker.
Jeff Bartley, an engineer with Water’s Edge Aquatic Design in Lenexa, Kan., outlined a proposal to build a pool suitable for competition swimming, plus a splash pad and recreational pool with zero-depth entry and a lazy river to replace the current pool and diving area.
Bartley said reusing the Schifferdecker site instead of building elsewhere would save about $500,000 because the current bathhouse and infrastructure could be used.
Cotten said that if the planning proceeds smoothly, demolition of the Schifferdecker pool would start as soon as the swim season ends.
Bartley said Tuesday by telephone that the new swim center would be roughly 50 percent larger than the existing Schifferdecker pool.
Public or private, a measure of recovery from Joplin’s disaster is a mark to be celebrated, Owen said.
“We’re anxious” to reopen and see families return for summer fun and relaxation, she said. “We’re going to have a ‘beginning of summer’ bash.”
THE ROSEDALE COMMUNITY POOL will open Saturday, May 26.
HOURS WILL BE noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 8 p.m. Sundays.
NEW MEMBERSHIPS are $245 for dues, plus a $75 application fee.
SWIM LESSONS will be available in June. Pool parties are $40 for up to 20 people.
MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION may be obtained by calling 417-623-9345 or viewing www.rosedalepool.net. The pool accommodates 200 families, and there are openings on the membership roll, according to association treasurer Kelli Owen.
JOPLIN CITY POOLS will open Saturday, May 26.
HOURS WILL BE 1 to 6 p.m. daily.
THE COST is $2.50 for children and $3.50 adults at Cunningham and Ewert parks, and 75 cents at Schifferdecker Park. Children under 2 are admitted free. Season passes are $125 for families, $70 for adults, and $60 for children and seniors.
A WATER VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE for adults is being formed.
SWIM LESSONS will be available in June. Pool parties are $125 an hour. Details: 417-625-4750.