Westerville News & Public Opinion

Jaycee Pool expects to swim another day

Volunteer help and community outreach efforts have stabilized finances at Otterbein Avenue pool

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After a season of uncertainty, it appears that Westerville's Jaycee Pool, 230 S. Otterbein Ave., will be around for at least one more summer.

Longtime Assistant Manager Joy Dietz said that after a summer of creativity and surprising support from the community, the future looks brighter for the city's first public pool.

"As of right this moment, we're going to be open next summer unless something really weird happens or a big storm comes and blows everything down," she laughed.

Dietz said that the response from the community was a pleasant surprise, and the help the pool received over the summer made a difference.

"The community was a huge help for us," she said. "A lot of people came out of nowhere to offer assistance. People came in and painted and planted flowers and did all sorts of things to help us out."

One highlight was when a group of young girls brought the managers their spare change to help with costs. Originally they were told to keep the money, but pool staff couldn't help but laugh when the girls told them that it all came from the bottom of the pool.

"It's very sweet and very genuine of children to say, 'We want to save our pool, so we got the pennies from off of the bottom of it,' " Dietz said.

But the improvements aren't all due to good fortune and help from the community. Rather than staying with their traditional ways, managers set up various activities and community outreach programs.

Things like a movie night and "sip and dip" swimming for adults were among the successful ventures, and Dietz said incorporating other activities will be a priority in the future.

"We're looking to continue to do those kinds of community outreach services," she said. "We want to let people know we're here and want to be more part of the community."

The next priority is replacing the roof of the indoor pool facility, an expense Dietz admitted is a fairly large burden. But if all goes as planned, the indoor pool will open for the winter and the outdoor pool -- after some minor repairs -- will reopen next summer.

If the pool were forced to close for financial reasons, the first rights to take over the facility would go to the city, which originally donated the land for the pool to the Westerville Jaycees.

But Westerville Parks and Recreation Director Randy Auler said he isn't sure the city would be interested, given the newly renovated Highlands Park Aquatic Center.

"When you look at the national standards of our size, the Highlands Aquatic facility has enough water space to meet the community's current and future needs," he said. "But I don't think any decision has been made. We'd look at what all of our options are."

In the meantime, Dietz is just thrilled that the pool of her -- and many other residents' -- childhood will remain open.

"Things all kind of came together with everybody's assistance and advice," she said.

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