TAMPA - Tuesday morning's large crowd at Williams Park made it clear: The public pool had reopened, ending a dry spell East Tampa swimmers endured for four summers.
"Look how excited these kids are," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said shortly after a 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the pool, 4362 E. Osborne St. "These kids need a place to be in the summer that's safe; that gets them off the street" and under adult supervision.
"The community has waited for this for a long time, both seniors and youngsters," Buckhorn said. "I think it will be a very well used pool."
Williams Park Pool closed in 2009. The city spent $1.3 million to comply with federally mandated safety standards and make other repairs to the aging pool. Long hot summers without a community pool caused some residents to push for its reopening.
"We finally got it open, and we're so happy," said Alma Kinsey, a member of the Northview Hills Civic Association. The group "worked really hard" lobbying the Tampa City Council and the mayor, she said.
"It's beautiful; plus, the children deserve this," said fellow association member Shirley Shipp, who sat with Kinsey on the pool deck as about 100 children frolicked in the water.
The pool will be open every day this summer, then four days weekly, including weekends.
Taborelli Construction began the job in January. The project included repair of the pool shell, a new pool deck and new equipment.
In recent summers, nearby Cyrus Greene Park Pool, 2101 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., served as a swimming alternative. Three other city pools remain closed: Roy Jenkins on Davis Islands, Cuscaden in Ybor City and Angus Goss Memorial in Central Tampa.
Zay Shaw was among many teens who swam at Cyrus Green in recent summers and returned Tuesday to Williams Park Pool. "I used to come here when I was small," about a decade ago, the 16-year-old said. "It's a great community" pool.