"Let's think about swimming pools!" was splashed across a full-page ad in the Daily Tribune in 1964 asking voters to support swimming facilities at Memorial Park, Red Run Park and V.F.W. Park.
"These centrally located sites are within a one-mile radius of 70 percent of the population of Royal Oak," said the ad.
The pools promised to be self-supporting. Each facility was to be identical and have:
- a T-shaped design (82' 6" x 40')
- depths ranging from 3' to 5'
- 10-foot diving well (30' x 45')
- wading pool (30' x 30')
- sun bathing area
- deck area
- bath house facilities
- underwater and overhead lighting
- off-street parking
To pay for the construction, bonds were to be issued for $375,000. Principal and interest costs were to be spread over a 15-year period and would average 15.6 cents per $1,000 accessed valuation per year.
The average home in 1964 was valued at $16,000 and had an assessed valuation of $8,000.
"The cost to the average Royal Oak homeowner to construct these swimming facilities — $1 per year," said the ad.
By contrast, the 2013-2018 Royal Oak Parks and Recreation Master Plan estimates the cost of a swimming pool (location not determined) to be $4 million.
In the end, voters rejected the proposed pools. The final tally was 6,111 in favor and 6,209 against the proposal, according to records provided by City Clerk Melanie Halas.
Ferndale and Oak Park get along swimmingly
In nearby pool news, the Ferndale City Council voted on Dec. 16 to approve an interlocal governmental agreement with the City of Oak Park that allows Ferndale residents to utilize the Oak Park municipal pool at the resident rate. In return, Oak Park residents will utilize Ferndale's Fitness Studio at the Kulick Center, located at 1201 Livernois St.
As in Royal Oak, the results from a Ferndale Parks and Recreation survey indicated a pool or splash pad was on residents' want list, according to Ferndale Community Pool Campaign, a Facebook page dedicated to getting a conversation about swimming started in Ferndale.
Ferndale, like Royal Oak, had a plan for a swimming pool (in 1970) that was never realized.
Oak Park's municipal pool is located next to its police station in David H. Shepherd Park. The pool features zero depth entry, a swimming lane and diving blocks. The shallow area has play features, such as a “raintree” and “spraybar.” The pool also has several hydrojets so patrons can receive a gentle massage while in the water, according to an Oak Park Recreation Department brochure.
The Oak Park pool is "great," wrote the Ferndale Community Pool Campaign in a Facebook post, adding "It's a bike ride away!"
What do you think? Did Royal Oak voters miss the boat five decades ago when they rejected building three community pools or did they get it right? Tell us in the comments.
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