After 50 years in operation, the facility closed for good with one final free admission day on Sunday, Aug. 9. The Platte City Pool once served as one of summer’s most popular spots in Platte City, but the simple L-shaped facility became outdated and eventually became functionally and operationally obsolete.
With infrastructure failing, City of Platte City officials made the decision to reopen the pool one last time this summer. Putting more money into the facility for renovations was no longer feasible, and there will be no public pool during the coming years.
Just how long Platte City goes without a public pool remains uncertain.
Currently, no funding exists to build a new facility, and although about 70 percent of citizens surveyed favor a pool, many of those have expressed hesitancy to pay for its construction. Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt believes a new facility, which would likely include more amenities than just a pool, would require about two years to complete from the moment funding and a project were approved.
The existing pool, located along Fourth Street in downtown Platte City, came together without any public funding.
According to a written history provided by Platte City resident Olin Miller earlier this summer, talk of building a pool started in 1964 with the idea that memberships and yearly dues could pay for the operation of a pool, allowing citizens a local place to enjoy rather than traveling to adjacent communities. However, funding for the original construction became the main obstacle.
In June of 1964, 14 people formed Platte City Swim Club, Inc., buying a minimum of 10 shares each at a cost of $100 per share. Original members were Thomas Nighwanger, W. Murry Tatman, James Wells Hull, Carl Porter, Ralph Kindred, George Tatman, Howard Alexander, James Higgins, Anna Clevenger, J.W. Lewis, Jr., Truman Glenn, Jim Wren, Gordon Miller and G.D. Lindsey.
The group held its first meeting in June of 1965 at the office of Don Witt at 319 Main St. and approved authority to enter into a contract for pool construction.
On July 12, 1965, the group borrowed $25,000 from Wells Bank to fund pool and bath house construction and concrete decking. Pool and Patio of Overland Park, Kan. was responsible for the pool and decking while Howard Woodring of Platte City would construct the building.
Nighwanger oversaw the project for Platte City Swim Club.
The pool opened for business on Aug. 1, 1965 with two diving boards into the 8½-foot deep end and a curved slide into the shallow end. There were no benches or chairs, and members often brought their own.
The parking lot was added after the close of the first season. Eventually, fencing, chairs and benches were added. Swimming lessons were taught in the mornings, and there were occasional late-night pool parties after the regular hours of noon to 9 p.m.
A swim team was formed in 1971 with members competing against other clubs in the area.
The pool changed hands four times in 50 years. The original stockholders maintained ownership for the first 12 years, leasing out operations to Recreational Club of Platte City, which provided a manager and lifeguards. Eventually, Higgins, Kindred and Miller, who bought out the interest of the other 11 original stockholders, sold the pool to Donald Soper and Golden Key, Inc. in 1977. Two years later, Soper traded it to Platte County.
In 1984, Platte City formed its parks and recreation department and bought the pool from the county, maintaining its operations for the final 31 years.
Platte City eventually added the shelter and small playground and continued to provide improvements to further the life of the pool. However, time ran out on the facility this summer, and the future of that particular plot of land remains up to debate, but it’s unlikely that another pool will exist there in the future.
“But let it be remembered,” Miller wrote in his history, “that the volunteers and businessmen of this community came together to provide a recreational facility for the people of northern Platte County and especially Platte City to make this a better place for people to live Yes, many have played there, learned to swim there, had some fun there, worked there, and we are all the better for the experience that this community effort and volunteerism has provided for the past 50 summer seasons.”