|Swimming is age-old summer recreation option in Holyoke|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
Swimming ranks right up there with all-American baseball when it comes to summer recreation.
Holyoke joined the elite ranks in 1936 when the first swimming pool was built on what is now Grainland Co-op property. It was located west of what is currently used as the Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department meeting room in the 100 block of North Baxter Avenue.
And it provided hours and hours of summertime fun for kids of all ages for more than 30 years until the new indoor pool was built at 248 E. Kellogg St., with grand opening festivities held Feb. 26, 1967.
Vera Beal remembers having to go to Julesburg to go swimming in a pool prior to the erection of the first Holyoke facility. It was a popular place for the local youth.
With construction of the first Holyoke swimming pool occurring during the summer of 1936, youth were getting antsy for the recreation haven to open.
The Aug. 20, 1936 Holyoke Enterprise reported that the pool was expected to open to the public late that week, although dressing rooms would not yet be available.
“Water has been running into the pool since Saturday for the priming of the pumps, and Sunday and Monday quite a number of the younger generation took advantage of the opportunity to get into the water,” reported the Enterprise.
“While the water was not clean, it was a lot better than the mud holes that have been used since the rains of three weeks ago. This swimming was stopped Tuesday morning, and since then the boys have contented themselves with sitting on the sides of the pool.”
The filling of the pool with clean water started Aug. 20. The Enterprise story indicated the capacity of the pool was about 150,000 gallons, requiring possibly a day to fill it. The time required to fill the pool depended upon the demand for water for other purposes.
First Holyoke Swimming Pool—west of the current fire department meeting room in the 100 block
The pool was 40 feet by 90 feet, with the shallowest part about 32 inches and the deepest portion about 9.5 feet. It was located directly behind the power plant, using the generators to heat the water.
Throngs visited the municipal pool daily as soon as it opened on Sunday, Aug. 23, 1936, reported the Enterprise.
Temporary diving boards and platforms were erected on the north side and west end of the pool and were extremely popular.
Despite the abbreviated season, season tickets were sold in considerable numbers. Up to the night of Aug. 26, 58 adult and 17 child season tickets had been sold.
Single admissions were 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adult. Season tickets for the remainder of the 1936 season were $1.50 for children and $2.50 for adults.
A building was constructed on the east end of the pool to be used for dressing rooms, office for the pool and town clerk’s office. The front of the building matched the front of the power house building and was 28 feet by 57 feet.
Under that building, the equipment for the pool was housed. It was noted water in the pool was changed every 24 hours.
It was reported in the Sept. 24, 1936, Enterprise that the building was nearly finished, and it was expected the town clerk’s office would be moved to the new addition between Oct. 1-15.
In an effort to establish a life saving corps for Holyoke’s new swimming pool, the city, through cooperation with the Statewide Recreation Department of the Works Program Administration, secured a registered Red Cross lifesaving expert who was at the pool for 10 days.
Earl Seibert, member of the recreational staff, accompanied by Howard Beresford, assistant state recreation director, arrived in Holyoke Sept. 14, 1936. Seibert immediately started teaching local youth in the art of rescuing and carrying people from the water. Classes were free and were open to everyone.
Many Holyoke residents have fond memories of the local swimming pool, which provided jobs for many summer lifeguards through the years.
Near the end of the original pool’s recreation time in Holyoke, in 1964, Pam Colver was the pool manager and chief lifeguard. Pat Nierman, with temporary assistance from others, served as lifeguard. Colver attended a Red Cross national aquatic school in Illinois June 7-17, 1964, before assuming her duties as pool manager.
In the final season of the old pool, in 1966, Janet Geist served as pool manager, assisted by Julie Shew. David Colver assisted with guard duties during busy times and also operated the chlorination and cleaned the pool.
Marc Schlachter takes a leap off the high diving board at the old
Successful bond election provides for new indoor pool in 1966
Holyoke voters, on April 5, 1966, in a 3-1 ratio, passed a bond election to construct an all-season swimming pool. The vote outcome showed 365 yes votes and 105 against.
The vote gave approval for the town to issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $73,000 to construct, along with the school district, an all-season swimming pool.
The Holyoke Enterprise reported that the bond interest rate would not exceed 4.5 mills per annum. It was emphasized that construction of the pool and enclosure could be accomplished with no increase in the mill levy in either the town or school district.
Cost of the pool was estimated at $105,000, with $65,000 coming from the town and $40,000 from the school district.
The town had $15,000 set aside in a swimming pool fund, and the school had $17,000 that could be used for the project. The remainder of the school district’s portion ($23,000) was to be repaid to the town as funds became available.
As part of the election, the town accepted as a gift from the school, the land on which the pool was to be built. It was a portion of school land adjoining the city park.
The pool was to be operated by the district under terms of a contract with the town.
The building was to be 72 feet by 129 feet and the pool, 44 feet by 74 feet. It was to have six racing lanes and two one-meter diving boards. Pool depth was to be graduated from 3 feet to 5 feet, with a 10-foot-deep diving well. A small wading pool was to be situated outside the enclosure for small children to use during the summer months.
Reynold Olson Construction Co. of Brush was awarded the construction contract with a bid of $104,580. Their initial bid was $7,500 higher and was rejected. The cost was reduced by changing plans for heating, changing the design of the scum gutter tiling and other minor changes.
General contractor for the project was Knight & Son Construction of Holyoke.
Expansive soil discovered through soil testing in the project’s early stages caused a six-week delay in construction while the structural plans for footings were redrawn. The job then proceeded at a steady pace.
Large pre-stressed concrete roof sections, which weighed 14 tons each, were set in place in late July 1966, with a 50-ton crane bought to town from Denver for that job.
The furnace and filter were installed by mid-July, masonry work was about two-thirds complete, and excavation for the pool started in early August.
Most of the soil was excavated by power equipment, but the final shaping was done by hand, rounding the bottom to exact dimensions.
A six-inch layer of special concrete material was then sprayed on the walls and floor of the pit. That material was then covered with a one-inch layer of Georgia white marble plaster, applied by hand with trowels. Contrasting with the white pool lining was mosaic tile racing lane lines and scum gutter.
Five sets of sliding doors, ranging in width from 12 feet to 18 feet were installed, two on the south end of the building and three on the west side. Dressing rooms, operating equipment, etc. were located in the north end of the building. Translucent plastic sheets reaching from the top of the doors to the roof permitted entry of daylight.
Delays in the shipping of materials slowed construction, but progress continued.
Indoor Holyoke Swimming Pool—248 E. Kellogg St.—Opened February 1967
At long last, an open house was held Sunday, Feb. 26, 1967, with entertainment by a group known as “Sharks” from Colorado State College. Their aquatic show was presented four times throughout the afternoon. A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 attended the open house.
The pool was used for the first time in the school program on Feb. 20, 1967. On weekdays, the new facility was used to provide students in grades 5-12 with swimming instruction.
Pool manager as the new pool opened was Gary Sperber, who also served as the HHS wrestling coach. In its first public use, on Monday, Feb. 27, Sperber reported that 125 people used the pool. Admission was 50 cents for adults and high school students and 25 cents for younger children.
A March 2, 1967, Holyoke Enterprise article reported that year-round staffing for the pool was to be provided by the school district. The Town of Holyoke was to contribute $1,000 annually toward operation of the pool and would provide electricity and water.
That swimming pool agreement between the town and school stood for just over 15 years until November of 1982 when the school district turned the pool responsibility to the town.
The Holyoke Swimming Pool continues to serve as a fine year-round source of recreation for the community, under the direction of current pool manager Karla Pargas.
Holyoke Enterprise August 8, 2013