The city is changing its 2022 bond proposal to keep Forest Park Pool Olympic-sized, Fort Worth District 9 City Councilwoman Elizabeth Beck confirmed Wednesday.
“It was very clear when it came to Forest Park Pool that the community wanted a facility that had eight 50-meter lap lanes, so we listened,” Beck said.
Initially, the city proposed demolishing the pool and building a leisure pool with a zero depth entry and play structures as well as a lap pool with four 25-yard lap lanes.
The change to the lap pool led more than a 100 residents to protest at a meeting in September.
Just got home from the Forest Park Pool meeting. Boy, was it spirited! My takeaways in a short thread 🧵 pic.twitter.com/cXS61w0p4U— Jessica Priest (@jessica_priest) September 17, 2021
Making it so that the newly-built lap pool stays the size of the current one brings the cost of the project from $7.5 million to $11 million, said Karen Stuhmer, communications and volunteer coordinator for the city’s park and recreation department.
Forest Park Pool is one of many infrastructure projects included in a bond the city will ask voters to approve in May of 2022. It’s unclear how this change to the Forest Park Pool project will affect other projects and the overall amount of the proposed bond, which had been $500 million total. City staff is expected to update the council on the bond Dec. 7. Council calls the bond in February.
Beck, who took office in June, said addressing her constituents’ concerns about the pool was like “baptism by fire.” The city had to find out if the site had enough space to build a bigger bath house and more parking as required by today’s building standards. Luckily, it did, she said.
“It was without question my first and one of my most significant tests so far,” she said.
The pool first opened in 1922. It was last closed in 2010 until the Radler Foundation helped pay for repairs.
At the September meeting, the idea of turning to Radler or another foundation for help was floated again. But one attendee, Adelaide Levens, said the city should invest in its pools as much as it invests in its golf courses. It is a public safety issue.
“No one has ever died from not learning how to play golf,” she said at the time.
Regardless, Beck said she’s still looking for community partners to help keep the pool afloat in the future. In addition to swim lessons being held there, the TCU swimming and diving team sometimes practices at Forest Park Pool.
“There are people who are really passionate about aquatics so the next step in this process is to reach out to them about how to enhance either the facility or the programming once it is redone,” she said.
Under this plan, the city has said that if the bond passes, construction would begin in October 2022 and be completed in January 2024, so the pool would operate during the summer of 2022, but not during the summer of 2023.
“However, should mechanical failures occur, which are uneconomical to repair and/or require an extensive time to repair, closure of the pool prior to the end of the swim season (in 2022) may be necessary,” Stuhmer said.
This story was updated Thursday, Dec. 2 correct construction and operation dates.
Jessica Priest is an investigative journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.