ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Old Municipal Bathing Beach (Boughton St)


Old Watertown Swimming Pool

Opened on June 14, 1942

New Watertown Aquatic Center




The old swimming hole called Lake Oscalo.  Back in 1866, when the old brick yard was digging clay to make bricks, the pit filled up with sparkling spring water from the many springs.  This water furnished a wonderful swimming hole for many old timers who will remember the happy days at the old clay quarry in the seventh ward.  In 1936 Mr. and Mrs. Oscar E. Carlson purchased the brick yard property and made this portion of their land a beauty spot for many of their friends who enjoy swimming, fishing, and picnicking.  Lake Oscalo was named after Oscar and Loda Carlson and was registered with the State Conservation Dept under that name.   Today Lake Victoria.




OLD SWIMMING HOLE, near south end of Tivoli Island, Oconomowoc Ave bridge in distance







05 13       RIVERSIDE PARK ESTABLISHED; includes bathing beach

Watertown is to have a new pleasure park.  Action along this line was taken at a meeting of the park commissioners last evening when it was decided to ask for bids for laying out the same, the bids to be received by the board up to May 28.


The proposed park will be known as Riverside park and will be located on an island in what is now known as Riverside addition, formerly the S. Kussel property in the Sixth ward.  This matter was taken up last year and will be pushed to completion the present summer by the board of park commissioners.


In connection with the park it is planned to build a river drive connecting this pleasure ground with other portions of the city, ending in the Third ward along the newly platted Crangle addition.


One of the features of the proposed park will be a rustic bridge connecting the island with the mainland proper, and a bathing beach with dressing rooms will also be features -which will appeal to all especially the children.             The Watertown News, 13 May 1910




The matter of a public bath house to be erected at or near Riverside Park was discussed, but no action was taken on this matter pending possible action by the park board, who has the matter in hand and are trying to make the erection of the bathhouse possible during the present summer.    WG




      More Land Purchased for Park Purposes

The Park Board has secured additional land for park purposes, buying of John Schlueter one half acre of land just across the river from Riverside park, on which the Park Board contemplate erecting a public bath house and otherwise improving it.  The price paid was $450.  This is a commendable move on the part of the Park Board, and the city council no doubt will and should endorse their action.    WG





              Bathing facilities are nil so citizen donates use of tent for bathers use


The protracted heat spell reached its climax in Watertown late Sunday night when the predicted cooler weaker arrived. Shortly before 10 o’clock Monday morning a brisk northwesterly breeze sprang up.  The highest temperature today was 85.


The banks along the river were thronged with bathers.  It certainly is a shame and disgrace to the city of Watertown that adequate bathing facilities are not furnished.  The city officials refuse to construct any bath houses, although a sufficient amount of money was listed in last year’s budget.  Something should be done and immediately too.


Of course now that the weather has cooled there will not be such a demand for bathing as there has been.  But another hot spell may arrive and still no bathing facilities.


The old maxim of Washington, “In time of peace prepare for war” could easily be used by the people of Watertown to read, “In time of cool weather, prepare for heat.”


It sometimes takes the combined ire of the citizens to bring the alderman wide awake to the fact that they are neglecting their constituents.  Something should be done about it at the meeting of the common council tomorrow night.


Things have come to such a pass that a private citizen had to donate the use of a tent where bathers can undress and dress. This tent is at the corner of Dewey Avenue and Division streets.            The Watertown Republican, 01 Aug 1916




              Land Near Riverview Park Suggested


All matters at last are under way for the furnishing of bathing facilities for the people of Watertown.  The mayor and common council have signified their willingness that proper facilities be furnished.  Money has been provided for the maintenance of such a place.  Land that will not cost the taxpayer a cent is under consideration.  This is possible on account of the Fanny P. Lewis fund.  This fund stipulates that money shall be furnished for the donation of the city of public parks.  The selection of this park is up to the park commission.  All that is necessary is that the city accepts the recommendation of the park board.  The city officials then buy this park out of the Fanny P. Lewis fund.


“The suggestion offered in The Leader Friday in regard that bath houses be placed at several points throughout the city is a good one,” said Alderman W. F. Gruetzmacher today.  “It shows that the people are closely following the agitation of the Leader for bathing facilities for the city.”  However, to adopt this suggestion would require some time as there is only $500 in the hands of the park board at the present time.  This money was appropriated some time ago. by the council for bathing house facilities.


There is no doubt but that something should be done on the bathing question.  Hundreds of persons would make use of this beach if it were turned into a bathing spot by the city.       The Watertown Weekly Reader, 08 Aug 1916




If it hadn’t been for a broken rustic bridge in Riverside park the youth of the community would now be disporting in the water at the bathing pavilion recently completed -- and have their clothes checked as per civilization -- and not on a willow bush.


Next week if the weather permits the new beach at Riverside park will be ready for swimming purposes.  The contractors have not turned the building over to the city as yet but will in the next few days.


A need for the building has been felt in the community for a long time and the new building, which is 40x20, will accommodate 44 people, and will fill the demand for a number of years to come.  The building contract was let for $1200, but extras will bring it up to $1300.



The recently built municipal bath house near Riverside park is being generously patronized by the people, especially the young folks.  There is no lighting system at present, but we understand that will be attended to as soon as possible.  The addition of a pier would be greatly appreciated but that will probably come in good time.  Many of the adults who would like to take advantage of the privilege afforded say that the bath house is closed too early and therefore they have no access to it when changing clothes.        The Watertown News, July 25, 1917




Richard Hoge, 203 North Fourth Street, a clerk in the Farmers & Citizens bank of Watertown, saved a young lady from death by drowning Monday evening at the public bathing beach at Division Street bridge.  Miss Stella Salick was one of the bathers and was wearing a pair of water wings to assist her in keeping afloat while learning to swim.  The wings became disarranged in some manner and she sank, catching hold of two boys near her who were unable to render assistance.  Richard Hoge was nearby and when the girl came to the surface a second time he grabbed her and she convulsively clutched him and became unconscious.  He broke her hold and caught her by the hair and swam to shallow water where every assistance was rendered until consciousness returned.  The water at the point where she sank is eight feet deep.


While probably in this particular instance life buoys would not have been of much use there is always danger of accidents and buoys or life preservers should be kept at a convenient point on the beach so they can be used, or some other means employed to save life.  The presence of mind of her rescuer is all that saved the girl, which might in some cases have resulted in a double drowning.    The Watertown News, 08 07 1918





Boughton St. beach / municipal swimming beach,.


DISTANT VIEW, from Riverside Park



1920’s, late


For about 10 years, starting back in the late 1910s there was a lot of agitation for a swimming pool to replace the Boughton Street beach. 


The old swimming hole on Rock river right at the Division/Boughton Street bridge, just a few blocks from the current pool setting.  Back then, the community became more and more concerned about swimming in the Rock river and decided a much safer environment was needed.  That's when the push started for a pool to be constructed through this federal program.  In addition to the dangers of swimming in the river, just about when summer peaked the slow and nonexistent flow of water caused the state health department ordered the "beach" closed.




The proposal to have the city purchase the 15-acre tract at the old brick yard, the pool of which has been used for swimming over a long period of time, and convert it into a swimming pool and general recreation grounds is being debated these days, ever since the question was revived at the last meeting of the city council.  The council has taken the matter under advisement and expects to act definitely on the offer made by the Koehler family, owners of the property, when it meets on September 18.  The offer, if it is not acted on now, will be withdrawn.


The pool in question is two miles from Main Street.  In the last few days scores of interested persons have visited the grounds to get a clearer picture of it and to discover for themselves if the proposal should be considered.  Every alderman and other city officials have been instructed to visit the place in order to gain firsthand knowledge of the site.


Opinion is divided on the subject.  Some contend the pool and grounds is in too hidden an area and others assert it can be acquired now at a price reported to be around $3,000 and that it can be developed at some future time, if not now.  Others claim it would be an ideal project to develop with government aid, being pointed out that some form of public works program will be continued by the federal government as part of the Roosevelt administration.


With such a project ready to be carried out, Watertown could present it when the proper time comes and men could be put to work on turning it into a natural pool and developing the surrounding grounds, those who support the idea assert.  Spokesmen for Seventh ward residents also point out that the ward, which has grown and developed more quickly in recent years than any other section of the city, has no playground for its children and that while other parts of the city have parks and playgrounds the people there have been neglected in the matter of such projects.


The council has taken the matter over as a committee of the whole and will bring it up at the next meeting.




In 1938 a referendum was presented to the voters for a $15,000 bond issue to construct the pool as a WPA project.  It passed 1,563 to 1,063.  Later the common council voted to add $5,000 to the available money to make sure nothing necessary would be left out of the project for lack of money.




Construction began in the winter of 1940 with the leveling of the hillside where the pool was to be constructed.  The pool was actually completed in the fall of 1941 but the bathhouse didn't get finished until June of the following year.  The pool did open for one week at the end of summer in 1941.  It was filled to check for leaks and city officials decided to let people use it for that one week despite not having a bathhouse.




Pool completed in the fall of 1941; the bathhouse finished in June of 1942.





The pool was officially opened on June 14, 1942, and by the time it was dedicated on July 5, as part of the annual Fourth of July celebration, nearly 5,000 people had used the pool.


The old pool was 75 feet wide and 165 feet long.  The shallow end had a depth of three feet and the deep end was 10 feet.  Back then and for many years, there was a 10 foot high diving board and also two boards several feet off the water level.  Diving off the high board was always exciting, but as time went on there were concerns for safety and the high dive was removed.  The 10 foot depth was only in a very small area and then it started rising quickly to the five foot level where it gradually sloped back to the three foot level on the north side of the pool.  The pool also had a small separate baby pool area which was just a few inches deep.


The bathhouse for the old pool was so impressive that much of it was saved when the new aquatic center was built.  The fieldstone which was used to build the old bathhouse was actually found on the site when excavation work was undertaken.  The building was 116 feet by 42 feet and is eight inches thick.


People using the pool would pay their admission fee and then would be given a large basket in which to put their clothes and a towel.  In the event more than 500 people were using the pool youngsters were encouraged to share a basket.  Often there were upwards of 1,000 people in the pool at a time, more than the rated capacity of 900.


The original pool and bathhouse were designed by then City Engineer Richard Podolske.  He took into account many factors to make this bathhouse the envy of many communities.  He worked hard to be sure it was clean, that there were no offensive odors and that damp and musty conditions were eliminated to minimize any chances of skin diseases being harbored there.


George Lehmann, a local building contractor, supervised the daily construction work while Podolske was the overall manager of the project.  Those who served on the pool committee during planning and construction were John H. Bublitz, Francis F. Darcey, Fred W. Pfeifer, Harry A. Beurhaus, George Fischer, E. F. Zimmermann, E. G. Hubb, R. J. Hoge, John D. Clifford, Walter Nurenberg, Fred Block, Amandus Krueger, and E. E. Brumm.


Admission prices that first year the pool was open were 5 cents for children ages 5 to 12, 11 cents for children ages 13 to 18 and 17 cents for adults.


Season passes were $2.20 for children ages 5 to 12, $3.30 for children ages 13 to 18 and $4.40 for adults.  Towel rentals were a nickel and soap for a before and/or after swim was one penny.


That first year the brand new swimming pool was staffed by six people.  Wallace Zimmermann was pool manager; Jack Zimmerman and Margaret Derleth were bathhouse attendants; and George Draeger, William Kuerschner and Ray Vogler were lifeguards.


The actual dedication program on July 5, 1942, was a big one.  It started at 3 o'clock and featured the Lake Shore Club of Chicago which put on quite a show.  A total of 14 girls and six boys performed in the program.


Speaking at the dedication were Mayor Walter Nack, E. G. Hubb, president of the board of park commissioners; city attorney H. W. Hartwig and Podolske.


It had to have been an incredible day for the citizens of Watertown. The country was in the midst of World War II and money was tight everywhere, but somehow, with the help of the WPA, the pool became a reality.  The WPA was a federal program that got unemployed and underemployed people back to work, making municipal projects come to fruition.


In addition to the pool, the WPA was responsible for all of the wonderful stone and cement terraces along the east side of the pool which were used as kind of bleachers, the similar terracing around the ball diamonds, the walls along the Rock River in Riverside Park and the small creek that winds its way along the river.


1940s, late









   breaking into millions of tiny bits

Two Watertown boys, one 17 and the other whose age has not been given, will be questioned here in connection with the act of vandalism at Riverside park swimming pool earlier this week which has delayed opening of the pool for some time.  Park Policeman Glenn O’Brien picked up two boys in the park for being noisy and boisterous Wednesday night and they are to be questioned in connection with the pool incident.


Beer bottles were heaved into the pool, breaking into millions of tiny bits [pool apparently not yet filled with water].  The. entire pool will have to be cleaned and flushed to eliminate all particles of the glass before the pool can be used.  The park crew, under the supervision of Park Superintendent E. E. Brumm, had put in 30 man hours of work getting the pool ready when the incident took place Wednesday night, which has caused the delay in opening the swimming season here



Lectures, psychiatrists, child experts and all the rest is the bunk


A Letter to Times Square, Watertown Daily Times




I see by the paper where vandals have once more interrupted activities at the swimming pool by tossing bottles into the pool.  This is vandalism at its worst.  I do hope that when and if the guilty person or persons are caught they will not be given a mere lecture, if they are juveniles, and then dismissed.  I believe the time has come when such hoodlums should be dealt with harshly. 


Instead of calling them on the carpet, in the presence of the police, the parents and juvenile probation officer, giving them a talking to and then letting them go, I think it's about time such young hoodlums were taken into court and fined.  And then given some sort of a job where they can work off the fine.  Say, even as much as $50.  Let them work it off at $1 per week.  Such an experience will make them realize the seriousness of vandalism.  It will take time to work off such a fine and give them plenty of time to think about it and also give them the sense of responsibility and good citizenship which they now lack.


We have been much too lenient with young vandals and hoodlums.  Let’s begin treating them as they deserve to be treated.  All this nonsense about lectures, psychiatrists, child experts and all the rest is the bunk.  Let’s make the kids realize that they can’t be vandals and damage public property and endanger the lives and safety of others without being punished and held responsible. 


Let’s cut out some of the modern nonsense and frills and get down to business.  The young hoodlums will remember a fine and the work they do to pay it much longer than any lecture or any psychiatric hocus-pocus anybody can dream up.  It’s too bad the old woodshed sessions ever were abolished.


- Irate Citizen




The annual water show at the municipal pool at Riverside park was very much enjoyed by the large number in attendance.  The girls featured in the water ballet part of the program, together with the two instructors are:  Donna Craine, Margaret Nevermann, Winnie Uetzmann, Mary Kee, Doris J. Messerschmidt (Jefferson, instructor), Carla Hobus, Carol Landsverk (instructor), Sandra Buss, Jane Johannsen, Louise Kaercher, and Margaret Timmel.  June Johannsen, also a member of the-ballet group, was not present.





[1] On hot summer days the line was just like this. [Remember] putting our clothes in a numbered basket and wearing the matching numbered pin.  I was so afraid of losing the pin, never getting my clothes back and (horrors) having to go home in my swimming suit and tell my mom. 

[2] Swimming lessons in the morning.  Open swim starting at 1 and I believe til 5.  Reopened at 7 until 9. 

[3] Swim for free all day.  Remember the mangled dog-eared tickets you moved from one basket to another, so they could count?  Seems to me they announced the numbers on WTTN and printed it in the Daily Times...along with the water temperature, which was always cold! 

[4] Remember the line up the steps well and coming off Division Street from the bridge and trying to get enough speed on your bike to make it up the hill to the bike racks.




Barbara Bauman, Leah Richter, Dorothy Crass, Mary Held, Audrey Rieck, Janet Borazo, Laura Brunelle, June Johannsen, Sue Stark, Kay Kaddatz, Marilyn Swanton, Sandy Schramm, Polly Zimmermann, Kay Meckes.







I remember many summer days spent at the pool! I think it cost a dime to get in. Boy, I'm old!!


We were there almost every day from when it opened ‘til it closed at 9pm.  Those were the days.


I practically lived there as a kid!!  Good times, 1950s'!!


Great memories of summer days spent there!


Did spend a lot of time swimming there in the 60s.  It did cost a dime to get in but my mom gave us a quarter so we could get a bag of Pagels popcorn or chips, which were the best.


It was free during the week and a dime on Sundays most of my growing up years.  I had to earn that dime helping with some chore around the house.


I recall doing the hill on my bike.  What a trip till you hit the fence.


In the 70s we bought a season patch to sew on our suit.  The potato chips were the best.  And so intimidated by the high dive when young.  Didn't do lessons but was in water ballet one summer, 1977.


Power lines running across the pool.


Let’s talk about water ballet.


30 cents for kids if you didn't have the season pass.  Dove off the high dive all the time.  If it was cooler out we had to have 15 kids waiting in order for them to open.


How I loved that pool!



06 06       With the 1958 swimming season at the Riverside Park pool due to begin this week, making it the 16th year of operation for the pool, everything was in readiness today for the opening at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.  The Riverside Park swimming pool, which someone has called the best recreational investment the people of Watertown ever made, was dedicated on July 5, 1942.  It was constructed during the years 1940 and 1941.  It grew out of a city referendum in which the voters of the city voiced their approval of the plan.  Actually, the pool had been completed in the fall of 1941 and during that winter and the following spring the bath house was constructed and the filtration equipment placed in the basement of the building.   WDT



06 27       With sizzling temperatures prevailing, the swimming pool here set a new attendance record yesterday.  According to a report made this morning by E. E. Brumm, pool manager, there were 1,502 free swimmers, 108 who used their season tickets, another 694 who paid admissions and 312 who used the pool as part of their swimming lessons.  This represented a total of 2,616.   WDT



10 12       Alderman Carl Seeber thinks it’s time the city fathers begin to think about the construction of a second swimming pool in Watertown — to be located on the west side.  He made his proposal at last night’s common council committee meeting.  He suggested that the council consider a plan to put aside a specific sum each year for a number of years to provide the funds for the project.  His suggestion was discussed only briefly, during which one alderman said he felt that if the plan is adopted, thought ought also to be given to making it an indoor pool so it can be used the year around and not only during the few summer months the present facility is operated.   WDT




A group of men posing for a picture

Description automatically generated with medium confidence          A group of men posing for a picture

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Some of the swimmers of various ages who will represent Watertown in water meets with other communities this summer. 


Joe Kaercher, Mark Hinzmann, Kurt Garlid, Greg Usher, Bill Perez, Mary Roethle, Mary Esselman, Kathy Schaefer, Greg Kaufmann, assistant coach, Pat Esselmann, David Kukla, Bob Wichmann, Joe Scheiber, Mary Indra, Ann Condon, Connie Kukla, coach, George Sanquist, Tim Usher, Ed Lehmann, John Scheiber, Jeff Perschke, Dick Smith.



10 23       The Watertown Municipal Outdoor Pool has served the community well for almost half a century, but recreation officials say it’s time to look at renovating the 47-year-old structure.  “We’re not looking for something that has to be done tomorrow,” said John Steber, director of the park, recreation and forestry department.  “(But) we’ve got to start looking at the future and where we’re going with this.”  Toward that end, Steber has included a request of $4,800 for a pool study in the 1990 outdoor pool budget.  If authorized by the Watertown Common Council, the study would include an investigation of the pool structure and mechanical systems, an evaluation of projected use, a drawing of proposed changes and budget estimates of renovations.   WDT



06 09       A $4,500 study of the outdoor swimming pool is being recommended by the Watertown Park and Recreation Commission.  The recommendation calls for the Stevens Point firm of Gremmer and Bablitch Architects and Engineers to offer three alternatives for remodeling and renovating the existing pool to bring it up to current state standards and to replace old and antiquated equipment.  The three alternatives range from the most economical yet functional pool facility, to a mid-range family aquatic facility to a complete family aquatic center.  John Steber said the existing pool was built in 1941 and for the most part it continues to operate with all of the original equipment.  He said, “We are in violation of numerous state laws, including the lack of water depth, we are unable to recycle water, we don’t have a recycling tank for recycling and our filter system is ancient.  Any of this equipment could stop operating at any time.”   WDT


12 05       City aldermen will review a proposed outdoor pool project with an estimated construction cost of about $1.7 million.  Final plans for constructing a significantly new water facility were presented to the city’s park, recreation and forestry commission Monday by consultant Gremmer-Bablitch Architects and Engineers of Stevens Point.  The firm is scheduled to provide another presentation at the council meeting on Dec. 18. Park and recreation Director John Steber said the commission believes construction of a new facility makes more sense than renovating the old outdoor pool, which was built in 1941.   WDT


Watertown Aquatic Center


02 13       The city’s outdoor pool will not open this summer unless the facility can meet state health and safety codes, according to a recommendation from the Watertown Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission.  Also, the commission recommended that the common council proceed immediately with the construction of the $1.7 million facility plan prepared by Gremmer-Bablitch Architects Engineers.  “We feel it’s in the best interests of the city and its citizens that we build a new pool,” said Jerome Kruse, commission chairman.  WDT


03 04       Construction on a new outdoor aquatic center would begin in 1992 if the Watertown Common Council approves a resolution Tuesday to authorize the $1.7 million project.  The council will meet at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of the Watertown Municipal Building.  Aldermen will consider two resolutions concerning the city’s outdoor swimming pool, including a measure that would commit the city to pay $1.2 million of the pool’s construction costs.  The other $500,000 would be raised through a public fund-raising drive.   WDT


03 21       Watertown residents can begin to raise funds for the construction of a new outdoor aquatics center following the Watertown Common Council’s authorization of the project on Tuesday.  The council agreed to commit up to $900,000 in general tax funds to the construction of the facility, depending upon the level of support from citizens, who would need to contribute a minimum of $500,000.  The resolution states that $1.50 in city funds will be contributed for each $1 raised through private sector donations.  The ration is intended to encourage contributions to the $1.7 million project, which includes construction of a zero-depth pool basin, concession area, volleyball courts and a water slide.  The mechanical and filtration system will be replaced in the project and the bathhouse will be remodeled.   WDT


06 20       A nonprofit community foundation is being established by a group of Watertown supporters, and its first project will be to raise the $600,000 needed for the private sector’s share of the proposed outdoor aquatic facility.  The foundation will be known as Watertown Area Community Foundation, and plans call for it to be a long-term organization dedicated to providing financial assistance for public projects which otherwise might not be feasible.   WDT



Work on detailed architectural plans for Watertown’s new family aquatic center should begin by early October for the most competitive bidding process, according to Timothy A. Gremmer, president of Gremmer, Ohm, Plover, architects for the project.  Gremmer was in Watertown this week to prepare topographic maps of the existing pool location to begin preliminary planning for the project.  The Watertown Area Community Foundation has been established to raise $600,000 in private funds.  The Watertown Common Council has voted to spend up to $900,000 if the $600,000 goal is reached.   WDT



The fund drive to raise $600,000 in private funds for a new aquatic center in Watertown is near the halfway point, members of the board of directors and advisory board of the Watertown Area Community Foundation were told Thursday afternoon. The total amount of money contributed in cash and/or pledged now stands at $286,500, according to H. Bruce Kasten, foundation treasurer. Members of the foundation board were also told that a number of contacts have been made and additional pledges should be committed in the coming weeks.   WDT




The Watertown Common Council Tuesday voted unanimously to commit the city to a maximum of $1.1 million for the construction of the outdoor family aquatic center. The council’s action will allow recreation officials to proceed with plans to build the facility this year for a June 1993 opening. Bids for the construction of the pool will be sought in the near future. The council’s commitment also will help the Watertown Area Community Foundation secure several more donations to the private fund-raising effort, which is closing in on its goal of $600,000. Foundation officials say several large contributors will release their donations only after the council commits to the project.   WDT



The Watertown Common Council Monday accepted four base bids and several alternates for the construction of the new family aquatic center.  The four bids, which total $1,259,818, include most of the work to build the facility.  Construction on the pool is expected to start this spring to allow a 1993 opening.  “It’s gratifying to note that the bids came in lower than expected,” said Mayor David Lenz, who added that the city will be able to accomplish more of the project by using the savings.  The council authorized acceptance of a base bid of $749,625 for the general pool construction from Neumann Pools Inc. of Beaver Dam.  The firm also will build a vinyl-coated fence around the pool for $5,978 and a concrete strip underneath the fence for $5,813.   WDT



The Watertown Area Community Foundation has exceeded its $600,000 fund-raising goal, supporters of the new aquatic center were told Wednesday evening.  A celebration to mark that accomplishment, held at Balistreri’s Welcome Inn, was attended by about 75 members of the foundation board, advisory board, government officials and others who helped make the fund drive a success.  The total collected and/or pledged thus far is $646,123.36, Bruce Kasten, foundation treasurer, told the group.  The revealing of that total on a large board was met with an enthusiastic round of applause by those attending. James Clifford, president of the foundation, told the group that the total is expected to go even higher in the coming weeks as more commitments in process are made.   WDT



Last month the largest project filed with the city was the new outdoor aquatic center, valued at $1.2 million.  The facility, which was financed through a combination of donations from citizens and industry and city funds, is scheduled to open for the summer of 1993.




After two summers without an outdoor swimming facility, Watertown’s new family aquatic center will open to the public Saturday with a dedication service planned Friday night.  According to John Steber, director of the city’s park, recreation and forestry department, workers are scrambling to complete the final details by week’s end and some of the project will be finished later.  Nonetheless, the facility will be ready for its opening, he said.  “For the most part, we should be ready to open the door,” Steber said.  “We should be ready to go.”  Although the facility will first open for business at 1 p.m. Saturday, Watertown residents will get their first look at the new center Friday evening.   WDT



The cold and rainy weather didn’t deter a crowd of several hundred from getting their first view of Watertown’s new family aquatic center Friday evening.  The open house included a short dedication program in which various speakers emphasized the positive spirit of the community that made the center a reality. Members of the community raised $600,000 as the private sector’s share of the $1.7 million project, an effort that has set a standard for other communities to seek.  And those attending were pleased by the final results.  Many praised the project as a great benefit to the community.  Others commented that it was one of the best aquatic center they have seen, comparing it favorably with others in the area.   WDT


One day after adults christened the Watertown Family Aquatic Center, local kids gave the new pool its first test on Saturday's opening day.  City recreation officials say 820 people used the pool on its first day, with a comparable number on Sunday.  Attendance may have been even higher if the weather had been warmer, as the highs were only in the mid-70s with a solid breeze.  "It was rather cool on both of those days," said John Steber, director of the park, recreation and forestry department.  "If we would have had some 80-degree temperatures, we would have seen about 1,000 (people)."  The heated pool water helped keep swimmers comfortable, Steber said.  The old pool had a constant influx of cold water, so the pool temperature never got warmer than about 72 degrees in those days.  Now, officials expect the pool water to average 78 to 82 degrees during the warm weather.  This weekend, the water temperature was near 74 degrees.



In its first summer, attendance and revenues at the Watertown Family Aquatic Center exceeded the expectations of city officials.  In fact, the facility may show a net profit for the year when all of the operating expenses are known, according to Cindi Keller, aquatic center supervisor.  In the 1993 budget, city officials projected that net revenues would equal operating expenses for the aquatic center.  “It does look like our expenses will not exceed our revenues,” she said.  Watertown’s new family aquatic center opened for business on June 5.  The city went two summers without an outdoor pool because the old facility was closed for health and safety reasons.    WDT



(2007) The family-oriented facility offers a 220-foot water slide, a 24-foot drop slide, a one-meter springboard, two animal water slides for preschoolers, a mushroom waterfall, several floor fountains and a large zero depth area. In addition, the facility also features a playground area, a sand volleyball court, a concession stand, spacious deck space, a large grass area and ample parking. Coin-operated lockers and a large bathhouse are also available.


This wonderful addition to the city's park and recreation programs, has received a tremendous amount of use since it was built to replace the aging municipal pool at the same location.


With the water slides, the zero depth pool and the many other amenities, this center is a far cry from the pool it replaced.  Many take this spectacular aquatic center for granted, but it came about through a major fund-raising effort and a cooperative financial deal with the city.  The private sector raised $600,000 and city government added $1.2 million for the $1.8 million total cost.








The council agreed unanimously during its regular session for early June that the city pool, known officially as the Watertown Family Aquatic Center and located at Riverside Park, should remain closed for a number of reasons, including financial, potential staffing shortages and the threat of a COVID-19 flareup.  The Watertown Park and Recreation Commission had recommended the pool not open in 2020.




Cross References:

Riverside Park

Derived in part from Watertown Daily Times article, 06 02 2007


Spent so many happy hours at this pool! Remember diving for greased watermelons at end of summer!


Before they built the large one, this was the place to be for sledding. Never missed it


Dr. E. J. Hoermann was a member of the board of park commission.  The park development program was one of the things closest to his heart and up to the time he took ill was a leader in the movement for a swimming pool here.




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin