Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa City Council members issue swimming pool ultimatum to mayor

Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick glares at Tampa director of contract administration David Vaughn over lack of progress and information that the council had asked for about costs related to the closed Williams Park Pool.


Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick glares at Tampa director of contract administration David Vaughn over lack of progress and information that the council had asked for about costs related to the closed Williams Park Pool.

TAMPA — A dry pool in east Tampa caused a ruckus Thursday and set up the possibility of a showdown between City Council members and the mayor.

Council members reacted with ire and an ultimatum after a contracts director couldn't give them a clear answer on what it would cost to repair Williams Park Pool.

The east Tampa pool — a symbol of disparity for some — remains closed while a pool in South Tampa opened in June.

"I know the mayor's listening," said council member Frank Reddick, looking into a TV camera. "Somebody needs to put $1.5 or $2 million in that budget if they want me to support that budget."

Council member Mary Mulhern backed Reddick, whose district includes Williams Pool, saying the mayor "might have to worry about more than one vote" over the city budget.

"We want this to be funded," she said.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who presented his budget to the council that morning but wasn't in the chambers for the swimming pool debate, wouldn't be pressured.

"I only need four votes" from the seven-member council to adopt the city budget, he said.

The city closed both pools three years ago when they couldn't meet a federal anti-drowning law requiring drain covers.

But comparing the two pools is not fair, Buckhorn said. The Interbay Pool in South Tampa never had the structural problems that the Williams one does.

The Interbay Pool was an easier fix, and was reopened in winters. Still, it had remained closed during the summers to save money — until this June, when the city opened it in response to community requests. Paying lifeguards to keep it open will cost about $25,000.

The original estimate to bring Williams Park Pool into compliance with federal law was $105,000. But by sitting empty, Williams developed more problems. Water draining from next-door school property, Buckhorn said, undermined the structure and it now sits "sort of cockeyed."

He won't promise to repair or replace the pool, which requires fixing the drainage problem.

Although he trimmed his capital budget of millions because of the tight economic climate, he said he increased funding for neighborhood improvements, such as aquatics, to which he allotted $6.5 million through 2014.

Four pools are vying for the funds: Roy Jenkins, Cuscaden Park, Bobby Hicks and Williams.

Jenkins and Cuscaden are historic pools. And renovation to Jenkins alone may cost as much as $4 million, Buckhorn said.

At a council meeting in June, members had asked Parks and Recreation Department officials to report on costs to repair or replace the Williams Park Pool.

David Vaughn, the city's director of contract administration, said Thursday his estimate of $1.5 million to $2 million was taken from the city's last pool construction. He said costs to repair, instead of replace, would be about the same, without providing specifics.

Council member Mike Suarez asked why — after three years — the staff still had no better estimate.

Vaughn said the staff would know more about the repairs needed by August or September. It still needs to assess the drainage problem and meet with community members to make a master plan for the park. He said the community could choose to replace the pool with splash pads.

Reddick said he didn't want to watch the pool bake in the sun for another year. And several people who live near Williams Park Pool came to the meeting to press for the pool's opening.

"It's a shame in this 21st century we're being confronted with this situation," said Gloria Newton.

Sam Kinsey said he expects the mayor to be as considerate to them as he was to the people who use the Interbay Pool.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at or (813) 226-3431.

Tampa City Council members issue swimming pool ultimatum to mayor 07/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 28, 2011 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  2. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)
  3. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

    Chris Archer has not gotten past four innings in four of his past five starts. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  4. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    MINNEAPOLIS — Times columnist Tom Jones gives his report card from the Bucs' 34-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday:


    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]