City employees dive into pool repairs
After a month of TLC, the Tonganoxie swimming pool is ready for business.
The pool, said to have been the first pool built in Kansas, is set to open May 25.
Lloyd Wisdom, city water plant manager overseeing this year's pool maintenance, said the pool required more work than usual.
To stop a leak, the city crew replaced a 9-foot by-2-foot section of the 76-year-old pool's original concrete floor.
Then, after treating the pool's surface with muratic acid, city workers decked the pool floor with the annual 35 gallons of blue paint and 20 gallons of white paint on the sides.
On Thursday, the water will start to flow all 250,000 gallons of it.
By the end of the summer, Wisdom said, the pool, baby pool, refreshment stand and bathhouse will have drawn about a million gallons of water.
"You get evaporation, you get leaks, the pool gets full and overflows," Wisdom said. "But mostly it just leaks."
The leakage, he said, is worse the first couple of weeks.
"Then it seems to slow down," Wisdom said.
Even though the pool has required more work this year than most, Wisdom said he's impressed with the quality of the pool's construction.
"It's been around a long time," Wisdom said. "For about 80 years old, it's real good."
The original concrete he removed looked good, Wisdom said.
"It looks just like the concrete we use today," he said.
Wisdom said in the future the city may have to decide between two options to keep the pool in shape sandblasting and repainting or installing a liner.
"I think a new liner could be put in for $80,000 to $100,000," Wisdom said. "I think that's supposed to be good for about 25 years."
With a liner in place, the city crews no longer would have to repaint the pool each year.
"We'd power wash it with soap and water, rinse it down and go," Wisdom said.
John Lenahan, who was a young child when the pool opened, said construction of the "Chief Tonganoxie Swimming Pool" began in 1925 and the pool opened in 1926.
"The whole thing was built with horsepower for the most part," Lenahan said. "Harry Gallagher used his team of horses and a slip to dig the hole."
During the pool's early years, area residents flocked to the corner of Fourth and Main for swimming, and more.
"It used to be the gathering place for the big festivities," Lenahan said.
"Because they had the hotel there and it was kind of famous, and they had the pool, the politicians who were running for office would gather a crowd down there and give their speeches."
In the early 1930s, two well-known Kansas politicians John Brinkley and Alf Landon drew crowds to the pool.
Lenahan recalled Landon's visit: "My dad was a staunch Democrat, but he said, 'Get up there and shake that man's hand.'"