Fort Worth resident Pamela Cannell can usually be found swimming laps across the Forest Park Pool listening to animal noises from the Fort Worth Zoo and watching the early morning stars before sunrise.
“It’s just extraordinary to be able to swim outdoors and enjoy the environment,” Cannell said.
For the next year, Cannell won’t be able to enjoy her early morning swim at Forest Park Pool as it is rebuilt and modernized. The city of Fort Worth is renovating the Olympic-size pool as part of its voter-approved $560 million bond from 2022.
The renovation is scheduled to start in May. The pool is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day 2024, said Scott Penn, Fort Worth’s senior capital projects officer.
Pool renovations to cost $11 million
The new pool will include a new lap pool with eight, 50-meter lanes, a separate leisure pool and a large slide, Penn said. The project is expected to cost $11 million, according to the city’s list of bond projects.
This wasn’t always the plan for Forest Park Pool, though.
The city originally proposed a $7.5 million project for the pool to be replaced with a leisure pool. However, some Fort Worth residents opposed the idea because they wanted to keep the Olympic-size pool.
Cannell and concerned residents attended public meetings to tell Fort Worth City Council members what they wanted to see in the new pool. They wanted the city to keep the size of the pool at 50 meters and increase the depth so it could be used for drowning prevention and remain where the Texas Christian University swim team practices.
The city listened and adjusted the bond project.
“I am immensely grateful for the City Council willing to listen to the community and restore the Olympic-sized pool to Forest Park,” Cannell said.
The first Forest Park Pool was constructed in 1922, according to the city’s website.The current pool was built in 1969 and was renovated in the 1990s and in 2012, Penn said. The Radler Foundation gave a $500,000 grant to the city of Fort Worth in 2012 so the pool would be in good shape for an additional five to seven years.
An audit the city of Fort Worth performed ahead of its 2012 aquatic master plan revealed the pool’s numerous maintenance and mechanical issues, including the failing mechanical well for the pool and outdated lavoratories in the bathhouse.
Pool forges community
Cannell is a volunteer for the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition. She teaches adults and children water safety and how to prevent drowning.
The coalition teaches classes in the city’s YMCA organizations, but they always visit the Forest Park pool every year.
“The pool has a very unique location, and it’s centrally located so people within the community can access it,” she said.
Even though the reopening is a year away, the only thing on Cannell’s mind is dipping her toes in the pool while listening to the lions’ roar once again.
Taylor Coit is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 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.