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Seminole Heights residents to City Council: Give us back our pool

“We have no pool and we definitely want a pool.”

Seminole Heights residents plan to bombard Tampa City Council next month in search of some summer refreshment by way of a community swimming pool.

The Angus R. Goss Memorial Pool on Central Avenue in the bungalow-adorned neighborhood has been closed for a decade. The city filled it with dirt amid massive recession-forced budget cuts after finding the pool, along with the Baldomero Lopez Pool in West Tampa, wasn’t all that popular and cost too much money to maintain. 

Now, buoyed by a robust decade’s long economic recovery, the city isn’t quite so strapped and residents want their community pool back.

Hillsborough County is high in drowning deaths,” said Beverly Morrow, co-chair of the Angus R. Gross Memorial Pool Committee. “We have no pool and we definitely want a pool.”

The group is raising private funds to help defray costs to the city for reopening the shuttered pool. Morrow said there isn’t a set goal yet, but hopes private contributions can raise $100,000. They’re also working with a grant writer and in talks with the University of South Florida’s architectural and design programs to potentially help.

An online petition to reopen the pool has reached 914 signatures of the 2,000 signature goal.

The next step, Morrow said, is looking to Tampa City Council to get on board. Council members will hear a report from city staff August 22 covering things like potential cost estimates and other facts about the pool. Morrow said she expects those projections to come in somewhere around $2 million. 

But it’s not just the city Seminole Heights residents are looking to for help. 

“We found out that [Hillsborough County] Commissioner [Stacy] White is very interested in these swim safe programs for Hillsborough County and it’s very high on his agenda,” Morrow said. “We would like to see if the two pools can be reopened with the help of a partnership between the city and county. Then that would open up more opportunities for the youth to participate in swim programs.”

The Seminole Heights pool was named for Goss, a Hillsborough High graduate who died in 1943 during World War II. 

The Seminole Heights Foundation, a nonprofit spearheading efforts to reopen the pool, wants to ensure Goss’ name continues to be memorialized by the community pool, which Hillsborough High students used to use for swim practice. 

In addition to working with city and county officials, the Seminole Heights Foundation is also drumming up community support. Morrow said the group is planning an event at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe in late September to inform residents about the issue and progress to right it. Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco who has championed reopening the pool is expected to speak at that mixer.

The group is also meeting with other local neighborhood associations including nearby Hampton Terrace and Southeast Seminole Heights to raise awareness. 

The Seminole Heights Foundation also supports reopening the Lopez pool.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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