Reservoir Park and Perkins Woods

Two Improved Public Pools Ready for Kids
Posted on 07/11/2018
Image of Improved Swimming Pools(as reported on Ohio.com/Akron Beacon Journal)

Success here is measured in laughter.

And the number of times lifeguards have to remind youngsters not to run on the pool deck.

The proverbial sounds of summer have returned to two city pools in Akron where attendance had been on the decline in recent years.

It might be the hot weather, but the folks at Art x Love like to think a little creative TLC at the Perkins Woods and Reservoir Park pools is what has made the difference.

The creative group’s @PLAY initiative landed a $240,000 Knight Cities grant — funded through the John S. Knight Foundation — to help energize Akron’s 24 neighborhoods through interactive art and activities.

Mac Love, whose title with Art x Love is creative catalyst, said the first step in deciding what to do with the funds was to listen to those living in the neighborhoods.

One of the things they heard a lot, Love said, was a desire to hear the laughter of the children in the summer months. And what better place to create fun memories than a day at the pool?

The problem was the two city pools — which are free, by the way — were built some 50 years ago and were certainly showing their age. Love said the space was full of drab-looking concrete, hardly an inviting place to spend the afternoon.

So over the winter and spring months, crews from @PLAY set out to power wash and spruce up the buildings and area around the two pools.

“There was just some general vandalism and graffiti,” he said.

They wanted to ensure the neighborhood residents and groups had a voice and ownership of the improvements, so they invited young and old to help with the murals that now brighten up the space.

The murals were designed by Art x Love and David Schweyer and finished by local artists including Schweyer and Dimaura Ink.

Chris Harvey grew up not far from the pool. He remembers well the boring concrete low walls ringing the area around the pool that are now a vibrant blue along with colorful murals — big and small — now adorning the sides of the buildings.

It has come full circle for Harvey because he is now a graphic designer working with Art x Love and helped the kids and residents create the new murals.

“We used contrasting blues here,” he said. “It really looks like a water park now.”

And whether the kids and parents realize it, Harvey said, they are being exposed to art, as there are murals everywhere your eyes might wander.

“The kids in these neighborhoods need to be exposed to art,” he said.

They are also being taught a bit of history and science. A series of murals on one building tells the story and science behind the city’s series of reservoirs — thus the name of the park off Hillside Terrace.

There’s another at Reservoir Park that offers a nod to the pool’s history and real name: the Philip G. Boggs Pool. It features an Olympic diver to pay tribute to the Akronite who won a gold medal in the 1976 games. Boggs died in 1990.

The murals seem to be doing their job. Jasmine Jones, a counselor at a camp held at Reservoir Park, said kids ask all the time what animal or sea creature is on that mural or another.

“I think it is great,” she said. “It’s nice to have things to look at.

“This has definitely enhanced the pool a lot.”

Manager Daniel Huggins at Reservoir Pool said attendance is up this summer. It also has new colorful benches and shade umbrellas thanks to neighborhood partners and @PLAY.

Capacity is 150 swimmers, and they have already hit it several times this summer. The busiest days last year, Huggins said, attracted around 90 swimmers to the pool in Goodyear Heights; they are routinely seeing anywhere from 150 to 300 swimmers over the course of a day this summer.

“Our numbers are way better than last year,” he said.

To celebrate all the work, @PLAY is hosting a party at each of the pools this week with free food, activities and music.

The party will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Reservoir Pool and 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Perkins Woods Pool in West Akron. They are asking folks to RSVP at either ReservoirPoolParty.eventbrite.com or PerkinsPoolParty.eventbrite.com.

There could be more work coming to Reservoir Park as the neighborhood has landed a $100,000 challenge offered by the city to dream up even more improvements.

The neighborhood’s RIGHT Committee is working with residents to come up with a plan that could include anything from free wifi to converting one of three baseball fields to a football field.

Harvey said he has fond memories swimming at the Reservoir Pool or skateboarding in the park and hopes the improvements will attract a whole new generation of kids and families.

“The memories made here are ones that will last,” he said. “No matter whatever they have going on at home — at least they have this place.”

Details...
Where: Perkins Woods Pool, 899 Diagonal Road, and Reservoir Park Pool, 1735 Hillside Terrace

When: Pools are open daily at 1 p.m. and operate on alternating days. The Reservoir Pool is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Perkins Pool is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Parties: 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Reservoir, 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Perkins Woods. RSVP at ReservoirPoolParty.eventbrite.com or PerkinsPoolParty.eventbrite.com.

Admission: Free

For more: akronohio.gov/cms/swimmingpools/index.html and artxlove.com/

Image of Improved Swimming Pools
Image of Improved Swimming Pools
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.