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New Martinsburg pool makes big splash

July 05, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After a three-year wait, Martinsburg-area residents were pleasantly surprised Saturday by their new pool at War Memorial Park - a creative, water-filled adventure that goes well beyond the norm.

Kids danced under a series of giant water attractions that dumped, sprayed and gushed water into a leisure pool, one of two at the park off Tennessee Avenue.

The "Rain Drop," a mushroom-shaped fountain that drops a continuous sheet of water into the pool, has been constructed in other pools in the country by Sonar International of Washington, D.C.

But the "tumble buckets" are a new creation by the company, said Steve Catlett, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board.

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The different-colored, cone-shaped buckets hang from a tall pole in the middle of the 80-foot-long pool. They fill with water until they tip, but the moment of surprise is different each time, Catlett said.

Other kids slid through a giant green frog that stood at the edge of the pool. Swimmers climbed through the back of the frog, and slid into the pool on its tongue.

Sean Dozier, 11, scanned the two pools, trying to describe what he like best about them.

He finally decided to call the whole place "luxurious."

"This is exciting. I know we'll come back," said Janet Markley, who brought her children to the pool for opening day.

"It's a very good feeling getting this thing open. It's been a long struggle," said Catlett.

The old pool was permanently closed on Labor Day 1994 following numerous problems, including severe leakage, corroded underground plumbing and filtration problems, said Catlett.

The Berkeley County Commissioners and the City of Martinsburg decided to split the cost of building a new pool and bathhouse, which cost a little more than $1 million.

The city had funding ready to go, but the county had to borrow money for its half of the project, and county officials had to go through a lengthy process of getting revenue bonds for the renovation, said Catlett.

Construction crews did not break ground on the new pool site until early this year. Catlett said he was assured by contractors that the pool would be open by July 4.

Members of the Berkeley County Commission and the Martinsburg City Council cut a ribbon to commemorate the opening of the pool at noon Saturday.

The leisure pool, besides being a hit for kids, also is designed to be attractive to people with disabilities.

It uses a "zero depth" design, meaning the water gradually deepens from one end. Compared to some typical pools, where the shallow end might start at about 3 feet, one end of the pool starts at "zero depth" and gradually slopes to 4 feet, sort of like walking into the ocean.

The second pool is 25 yards long and is designed for competitive swimming, said Catlett. The advantage of having two pools instead of one, like the old design, is that the deeper 5-foot to 9-foot pool can be kept cooler for sporting events and the leisure pool can be maintained at a warmer temperature.

Officials ultimately hope to enclose the pools, creating a year-round facility.

The opening of the pool coincided with the park's usual Fourth of July festivities in War Memorial Park, including live entertainment, pony rides and fireworks.

The pool is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays.

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