Heavy equipment reduced the Hawthorne Park pool to rubble this week, stirring up a few summertime memories for local residents.
"I learned to swim in that pool," said Doug Croskell, a 60-year-old Medford resident. "That's just really sad."
The pool, which opened on June 4, 1950, was closed in 2011 after city officials determined it was leaking 30,000 gallons a day.
Crews will continue demolition into next week. Most of the pool was dug out Thursday, and workers were knocking down the pool house.
The city awarded a $59,300 contract to Vitus Construction that is part of an overall rehabilitation of the park.
Croskell was at a meeting in Medford Thursday morning and had no idea that the pool was being taken out, until he walked into the park.
"Oh my, they've already got all the concrete ripped out — unbelievable," he said. "They came in under the cover of darkness, and it's gone."
Croskell said it was hard to believe the pool couldn't be repaired.
He added it was a shame that the park and the pool have become symbols of crime and other problems plaguing the city.
John Parsons, a 58-year-old Central Point resident, was in the park Thursday discussing with a colleague the need for more activities for children.
He said Medford residents missed an opportunity to improve the park with a levy.
"If they had put another pool in, it would have gotten rid of the transient problem," he said. "I can't believe they wouldn't support putting another pool in."
The city had hoped voters would approve a $14.5 million bond levy last year to pay for two new pools. The pool next to Jackson Elementary School remains open, though officials expect it will ultimately fail because of its age.
Medford officials are looking at a $1.7 million proposal to redesign Hawthorne Park, which has been plagued by crime and vagrancy issues over the years.
So far, the Medford Urban Renewal Agency has authorized $1 million toward the park rehabilitation. If other projects on MURA's list come in under budget, the unspent dollars will be applied to the park.
The plan includes a spray pad, basketball courts, artwork and two dog parks — for small and large dogs.
New walkways would be built throughout the park, along with new lighting and a new restroom.
Improved irrigation equipment and many new plants would be installed as well.
A base plan to renovate the park would cost almost $1.5 million, or $500,000 more than the MURA board previously had earmarked for the project.
The splash pad, artwork, skate park and two basketball courts, plus one free-play court, would add another $200,000. The splash pad alone amounts to $120,000.
Brian Sjothun, director of Medford Parks and Recreation, said the design for the park improvements envisions a future aquatic center on the south side where the current rose garden is located.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.