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Swimming pool built but never used

Staff writer

The community of Tampa has become a model of cooperation between townspeople and rural residents. However, an incident that happened in 1936 tore them apart for a time.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, a federal agency named the National Youth Association and officers of Rural High School District #4 at Tampa entered into a written agreement to build a swimming pool on the high school grounds.

City officials and officers of Tampa Grade School District #110 orally agreed to contribute to the cost of the swimming pool. Subsequently, the treasurer paid $450 out of district funds to fulfill its part of the bargain.

The high school was in the city limits, but the grade school was on the east edge of town, just outside the city limits.

The swimming pool project became a divisive issue in the community because many farmers in the area felt they were paying for a project that would benefit only city residents.

Many meetings were held by both sides to debate the question and develop a plan of action.

Meanwhile, the pool was being built and was completed in 1936. It was not filled with water, pending the outcome of the controversy.

A lawsuit was filed against the treasurer of the grade school for repayment of the $450.

Marion County District Court ruled that the payment was not proper, and the treasurer was ordered to reimburse the district.

The case was appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, and on Jan. 29, 1938, it affirmed the lower court ruling.

Consequently, almost two years after the pool was built, the walls were pushed in and the pool was covered with never a day of use.

Banker Ed Costello, who wrote about the incident in his centennial book, Tampa, 1887 to 1987, had this comment:

“The controversy split the community down the middle and it took many years for the wounds to heal. It was a sad day in the history of the town.”

Last modified March 6, 2019

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