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Seminole Heights residents push to reopen historic pool

Seminole Heights residents are pushing to get Angus Goss Memorial Pool reopened. The pool has sat vacant for nine years and is currently filled with dirt and grass.   Photo by the Angus Goss Memorial Pool Committee.
Seminole Heights residents are pushing to get Angus Goss Memorial Pool reopened. The pool has sat vacant for nine years and is currently filled with dirt and grass. Photo by the Angus Goss Memorial Pool Committee.
Published Jun. 20, 2018

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Several city of Tampa pools have reopened in recent years, and now Seminole Heights residents want to make a splash in the trend.

The city has restored the historic Cuscaden Pool (2016), the Roy Jenkins pool on Davis Islands (2014), the Williams Park Pool in East Tampa and the Interbay Pool in Culbreath Heights, (both in July 2013). Now, the Angus R. Goss Memorial pool committee wants its turn to reopen.

The historic pool bears the name of a U.S. Marines Sgt. Angus Robert Goss, a former Seminole Heights resident and Hillsborough High graduate, who died in 1943 during World War II.

The pool was a way to locally commemorate and continue his legacy, but now it sits vacant and filled with dirt.

The pool committee launched a petition with help from Hillsborough High to gain supporters. They plan to soon submit a formal proposal to the city of Tampa.

"This pool is historic, yet it's something that they're willing to erase out of history when there's such an overwhelming support the community has for this pool," said Chrissy Taylor, the committee's public relations manager.

"It's about taking history, holding onto it and passing it down to our children."

Taylor says the community is steadily growing and families have to travel to other pools like Sulphur Springs only to be turned away because they are filled to capacity.

"You can't go down the street without seeing a house being built, for sale, or redone. On my street alone within the last two years there have been seven houses sold and the population that is moving in are all 20 to 30 something," Taylor said.

"That kind of growth that's happening here is exponential, so we need this pool."

The pool will benefit the Hillsborough High swim team, allowing them to walk to practice instead of carpooling and traveling far for their swim meets. Memorial Middle School, which previously used the pool to have physical education classes, also would gain from is use for summer and after school programs and community service opportunities.

According to Beverly Morrow, the co-chair of the pool committee, the pool closed back in 2009 because it was under utilized and the operating costs ran too high.

"Our demographics have changed drastically since the pool closing time," Morrow said.

"Now we can prove the level of interest is high so therefore the utilization would obviously go up."

The City of Tampa does not have a plan to demolish it, but plans to develop the northeast side of the property into a small dog park.

"I cannot speak for the future, but as of right now, we do not have any dollars in our budget for any capital projects such as this," said Paul Dial, Tampa's parks and recreation director.

"We look at capital projects year by year and there are many needs across the community. We clearly at this time have higher priorities that we are looking to fund, but we will make improvements to the dog park."

The pool committee sent a survey to all the neighborhood associations, and it showed that 91 percent of the respondents had no private pool in their backyard and a majority of the respondents prefer a pool over a community garden, dog park, or pocket park.

Organizers of the committee began a petition on May 22 and continue to push toward a goal of 2,000 signers.

The pool committee understands it won't be an easy or quick process. After receiving an estimate of $600,000 to redo the pool and $120,000 in operational costs to maintain it yearly, they are prepared to wait for the next budget cycle, start fundraisers, pursue grants and continue to rally enough support.

"We understand the city has a budget and priorities," Taylor said.

"We're reasonable, but what we're trying to make sure is that we're in the know. Maybe in a couple years they'll eventually say yes, we'll build this pool."

Contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com

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