Supplement Feature - February 2010
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Raging Waters

Economy's Tumult Drives Aquatic Facility Plans

By Daniel P. Smith



Overcoming the Economy:
One City's Spirited and
Innovative Quest for a Pool

Thirteen years ago, the City of Sapulpa, Okla., closed its lone swimming pool, an indoor lap pool primarily used by swim team members. Since then, Sapulpa, a town of 19,000 on the outskirts of Tulsa, has had no public swimming facility for its residents, the largest city in Oklahoma to hold such an unsavory distinction.

"The wealthy could join a private club, but the vast majority of this community had no place to swim and subsequently didn't know how," resident Jan Allen said. "A lot of us felt passionate that all kids learn to swim and that we had a venue for our residents to enjoy."

One problem: The city could not finance the effort.

In 2007, Allen and nine other Sapulpians took control of the matter, forming The Citizen's Aquatics Fundraising Committee to land the city a modern aquatic complex. The community rallied around the project.

From five dollars into the hundreds, over 500 individuals donated to the cause. Local schools held penny drives, one grade school raising nearly $1,300. With grants from 19 different foundations and businesses as well as a $600,000 challenge grant from the local Bartlett Foundation, the committee amassed nearly $1.8 million in two years. The city then stepped forward, donating the park land and agreeing to provide the storm sewer lines.

Responding to the present day's movement for more recreational water to serve a diverse audience and the city's insistence that the facility be self-sustaining, Sapulpa's plan includes two waterslides, a lap pool, a 100-foot long beach entry, a spraypad, sand volleyball court, playground and private party area. Construction of the $1.6 million facility began in mid-2009. Hopes remain high for a May 2010 opening.

"It's important for this to be a true family aquatic center," said Jim Crosby of the Planning Design Group, the Tulsa-based firm overseeing construction. "We all wanted this to be an outlet for healthy living in the community and that idea's been at the forefront of our mind from the start."