Resident Catharine McPherson spoke to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, July 19, about a proposal by the Community Betterment Association to have fundraisers for the pool.
"We thought this would be a way to help the city and get kids coming back to the pool," McPherson said.
The board approved the first such event, a pool party on Thursday, Aug. 4, to generate money to offset at least a portion of city costs and revive local interest in the 35-year-old pool.
McPherson said a survey of Thayer High School students this year revealed many want the pool to have more furniture, shade and a slide or other entertainment. Many said they would volunteer to help with projects or raise money for the pool.
The students also indicated on the survey that they want the bathhouse updated.
In June, the city spent about $15,000 for pool chemicals, which are expected to last through the season, while bringing in about $6,000 through pool admission fees and concession sales.
Alderman Mike Harber said the city is researching a grant that would help pay for a new pool treatment system that uses salt to clean the water. The system is estimated to cost about $19,000 for the equipment and about $20,000 for installation.
Alderman Steve Alford said changing from the old chlorine system to the new one would require more than a fundraiser and is not in the city budget now to match a grant, even if it is just 20 percent. The system would quickly pay for itself, however, he said, as the salt system is much less expensive to operate.
Mayor Earl "Buddy" Rogers said the pool also leaks, one time losing 45,000 gallons of water overnight.
McPherson said Land and Water Conservation funds may be available for bathhouse construction and renovation. South Central Ozark Community Improvement Corporation (SCOCOG) can help with the grant, she said.
Grants are unavailable for actual pool improvements, which would instead require private donations, McPherson said.
The board approved a back-to-school party from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, to include prizes, barbecue dinner, swimming contests, carnival games outside the pool area, concessions and water basketball or volleyball games.
Regular admission fees will be charged, with half the money going to the city and the other half to the betterment association, earmarked for pool projects.
McPherson said the city is fortunate to have a pool manager who is excited to revive interest in the pool, activities for youth and a possible swim team.
"We look forward to working with you to make the city pool cool," McPherson read from a prepared statement.
In a follow-up interview Friday, July 22, pool manager Brenda Dixon confirmed her enthusiasm about rejuvenating the once-popular city pool. Dixon, who retired from Thayer School District as a physical education instructor, began working at the pool this year.
Dixon thanked residents Doris and Kenny Brown for donating tables, chairs and hoses to the pool. She also commended Whitney Mills, who helps teach water aerobics.
"I'm really proud of our lifeguards," Dixon said, adding that the lifeguards also teach swimming lessons.
Dixon said she taught the city's first group of lifeguards 35 years ago, and recalls when the pool was a hub of activity. Although the outside temperature was more than 90 degrees late in the afternoon, less than 10 patrons were at the pool.
"I'd like to see 100 people here," Dixon said. A very high turnout now is about 60 people, she said.
Dixon taught Thayer High School's swim team for 15 years, and hopes to see the sport return to Thayer.
The pool currently offers water aerobics and arthritis classes, which have more than 10 participants each who attend regularly. Pool parties for churches, schools and families also are popular, although daily attendance is low, Dixon said.
"I would love to see our pool draw people again, to be a place where everyone would want to come," Dixon said.