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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Central Tampa News

Specifics sought on closing, costs for Cuscaden pool

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V.M. YBOR — A few months ago city officials said money to repair Cuscaden Park’s swimming pool might be available in 2014. That expenditure now is nowhere to be found.

Area residents and Tampa City Council members want to know what happened. The council recently asked city staffers to return with a report on the matter on Oct. 3.

Nearly 10 years ago the city spent about $3 million of federal grant money to restore the pool, which was built in the late 1930s as a WPA project. But citing chronic leaks, city officials closed the pool in 2009 for more repairs. The city also ended after-school programs held there.

“It is one of just the most spectacular things ever,” said Councilman Harry Cohen. “It looks like it belongs at a resort as opposed to in the middle of a bustling city. It is all that much more tragic that we spent millions of dollars to fix it only to close it four years ago.”

City Council members want their staff to explain in more detail why the pool closed and how much it would cost to repair it. They also want to know if the city can recoup any costs from the previous repair work.

At a recent public hearing on next year’s city budget, area residents expressed frustration with the long wait to re-open Cuscaden’s pool.

Two other pools also closed by the city for long periods have received funding. Williams Park pool, in East Tampa, re-opened this summer after it was closed for four summers. Repair costs were $1.2 million.

About $2.5 million is allocated for repairs to Roy Jenkins Pool on Davis Islands.

Residents say they have heard from city officials that Cuscaden’s pool is difficult to repair because it is historical and above ground.

But resident Kim Headland said, “Those were not concerns when the city decided to fund repairs to Roy Jenkins, an above-ground historical pool located in Davis Islands. ... As a taxpayer I can never understand why it is acceptable to let a historically significant pool fall into disrepair and then claim tough business decisions to leave it unfunded and closed.”

Residents also disagree with city officials’ assertion that the Cuscaden Park is under used. Soccer leagues, staff and children from the nonprofit Dream Center, and middle-school students from Academy Prep routinely participate in activities at the park, they say.

Private funds and an assist from national playground builder KaBoom! paid for a new playground at the park.

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ksteele@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7652

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