Waddell Pool in Niles to be demolished after 88 years | News, Sports, Jobs


NILES – The Waddell Pool is set to be demolished Tuesday morning after standing in Niles for 88 years. It closed in 2014, but many in the community still remember it fondly.

The pool was dedicated on July 25, 1934, according to the Niles Historical Society. The ceremony was attended by 5,000 people and around 750 were able to swim afterwards. The ceremony included a water show and a diving exhibition, and the high school orchestra performed.

At the time of its opening, the historical society notes that Niles had one of the most modern and largest municipal swimming pools in the state.

That first summer, the pool was open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cost of admission was 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. By September 16, when the pool closed that summer, it had raised $1,574.70 from 8,325 children and 3,711 adults. A free swim was offered to 3,816 people.

Swimmers were required to shower before entering, and no smoking or gambling was allowed. Swimsuits had to be clean and modest, according to the historical society. Wearing a swimsuit without a shirt was not allowed.

Although the pool was appreciated by many at first, it was not enjoyed in the same way. Black citizens were only allowed to use the pool on Monday mornings. According to the historical society, in his memoir, Lou Tabors recounts how he convinced city administrators to let black residents use the facility in the same way because they were also taxpayers and deserved access to the facilities that their money helped sustain.

DEVELOPMENT

OF THE SWIMMING POOL

In the 1930s, the federal government announced a public works program that offered to pay 30% of costs for projects that would put people to work in the midst of the Great Depression. Under this program, created by the National Recovery Act of 1933, the Niles City Council requested and received $40,000 in funding for the pool, according to the Niles Historical Society.

The pool land was donated to the city by Jacob D. Waddell in 1929 for use as a park. In total, he donated 52 acres. Waddell was the vice president of Empire Steel Corporation and later served as the first health district manager of Mahoning Valley.

The historical society notes that Waddell was hailed as “Niles’s greatest benefactor” for his generous gift. Many residents at the time hoped that a swimming pool would be added to the park, and federal government funding made this possible.

The first concrete was poured in February 1934 and work began as building materials arrived. The architects of the project were Ackley, Bradey and Nelis from East Liverpool.

More information about the history of the pool and other Niles landmarks can be found at nileshistoricalsociety.org.

POOL CLOSURE

The Waddell Pool was closed in 2014 when the city was unable to pay its lifeguards due to its fiscal emergency status. The facility has not been used since except for occasional storage.

In 2017, a study by Phillips Sekanick Architects of all city-owned buildings—to determine the condition and needed repairs to structures—includes the pool and park maintenance building. The investigation revealed a water main leak under the pool and roof leaks, cracked walls and a damaged deck in the pool building.

The pool building and amenities have not been renovated since the 1980s, and the pool building pump station in particular has deteriorated since the pool was closed. In 2018, the pool was estimated to need $2.5 million in repairs to be able to open safely.

While officials said it would be too expensive to make these repairs, the city is working on building a wading pool. Cortland, Warren and McDonald’s all have popular wading pools. The inauguration of the paddling pool should begin next year for the playground to open around the 4th of July.

MEMORIES

Several community members wrote to share their memories of Waddell Pool:

“Our family grew up swimming in the pool every Fourth of July. My brother, uncles and grandfather would ride to the park and sleep all night on the picnic tables so we would have enough for the family” , said Kristina Gimma, “We stayed and barbecued all day. It was the best childhood memory. Even my children went to the swimming pool every weekend and they are now 42 and 45 years old. What a pity that my grandchildren could not see and enjoy the pool.

“It makes me so sad,” Marci Ellwood said of the pool closure. “I spent hours and hours in this pool. We had paper routes, and my dad would go to the Trib and pick up the papers early, when it was the afternoon delivery. When we were done Dad dropped us off at the pool with 50 cents for a snack. One of the ladies in the ticket is now my sister-in-law. We stayed ALL day and were starving. Mom had dinner waiting for us. Then our grandson also got to experience the swimming pool.

“I grew up in Niles in the 50’s and 60’s. I spent many of my childhood summers at Waddell Pool swimming with my friends and family. Coming from a family of eight, this was an affordable and fun activity. It was magic when I was a kid.

said Michelle Piacquadio. “We always knew we would be safe because there were time checks with everyone out of the pool and constant weather alerts. Our parents knew we would be safe and come home smiling and exhausted from hours of fun in the pool. I took my first swimming lessons at Waddell Pool. I can still smell the chlorine and sunscreen and feel the hot sun on my skin. I consider myself lucky to have experienced Waddell Pool at its best!”

“I remember having season tickets, with my neighbors, and their mom would take us down almost every day,” Joe Burnham said. “It always felt like the whole community was there, and we would go to other people’s blankets and visit when the lifeguards were cleaning the pool. We were starting to get so impatient, waiting to hear the whistle, letting us know we could swim again. It looked like we were all going to jump at the same time. I’m so grateful to have these memories of the pool and my friends. I will cherish them forever.

“My friends and I lived across Niles and rode bikes every Saturday and spent the day at the pool,” Scott Belica said.

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