It's been four years since Altoona and Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission officials first spoke of closing Juniata Memorial Park Pool permanently, after learning corrosion in the filter system created an electrocution hazard that was too costly to fix.
Since then, a suggestion for a spray park to replace the pool, a study that showed the pool was too far gone to keep, an analysis that laid out all the replacement options, a commission recommendation for the most expensive replacement pool, a City Council return to the spray park idea, a $1 million bond issue, a state grant, the reconfiguration of that grant, federal funds from a former skatepark project, leftover money from a Fifth Ward project and city block grant funds led Tuesday to a ceremonial groundbreaking on the site of the former pool - for a spray park.
"There were many bumps," commission Executive Director Mike Hofer told a group that included some of those same city and commission officials.
"We didn't forget you," said Bill Schirf, who was mayor and a commission member when it all transpired.
Shutting down the pool was unpopular and "unpleasant," said Erik Cagle, a city councilman and commission member, who first suggested the spray park.
But it was done for safety's sake, Hofer said.
Krena Leberfinger, a mother of two children who used to use the pool, wasn't thrilled to learn of the groundbreaking - which will be followed in about a week with the start of construction, scheduled to be finished around the beginning of August.
"I'm still disappointed," said Leberfinger, who was among a group of neighbors who convinced the commission at a special meeting in 2011 to recommend a "Cadillac" pool option to City Council.
That recommendation eventually fell out of favor with the two commission members who were also councilmen, leading to council's ordering construction of the spray park, which will be less expensive to build and maintain, instead of a new pool, which they feared would be little patronized, based on poor attendance at Prospect Pool, even after Memorial closed.
A pool would have been better because it's appealing to people of all ages - not just little kids, according to Leberfinger.
Her two children - ages 11 and 15 - probably won't go there, she said.
And going to Prospect is not an acceptable substitute, she said.
Her kids have gone there and don't like it, probably because it's less family-oriented and more teen-centric, she said.
Christian Cagle, 10 - Erik's son - however, is looking forward to Memorial's rebirth, which includes an overall park rehabilitation.
He explained how the spray devices work, based on his experience at DelGrosso's Amusement Park.
"You can activate them by pulling, pushing or twisting the buttons and water comes out," Christian said.
You can also douse your little brother, he added.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.