The future of Dallas city pools looks much different from their current state. A Park Board-approved plan calls for closing all but one of the existing pools and replacing them with water parks.
The city’s Aquatics Master Plan would cost as much as $50 million to implement.
Since the city doesn’t have $50 million for three regional aquatics centers and five smaller centers throughout the city, the Dallas Park and Recreation Department must figure out what to do with existing pools in the meantime.
Each pool, including the one at Kidd Springs Park, has a budget of about $120,000, which pays for staffing, cleaning and maintenance.
“Some of these pools are 70 years old,” says Daniel Huerta of the park department.
Every year, something breaks or cracks in one or more of the city’s pools, sometimes requiring expensive repairs. That’s not in the pools’ budget, so the department has to find the money elsewhere to pay for repairs.
The city’s Park Board approved the Aquatics Master Plan this past May, even though it’s not funded. If the city could sell Elgin B. Robertson Park at Lake Ray Hubbard, that could pay for part of the aquatics plan, Huerta says.
In the meantime, the city’s existing pools will remain open. So Huerta and the park department will go to the board Nov. 20 to explain the old pools’ needs and seek guidance on how and whether to maintain them.
“The city shouldn’t be investing money into pools if we’re changing the whole model,” Huerta says. “But we’ve got to keep our pools up to code and functioning.”
In our neighborhood, the existing Bahama Beach park would serve as the regional aquatics center. Sites for the other two and the five smaller centers haven’t been selected. And the plan itself, written in 2012, is still far from being finalized by Dallas City Council, Huerta says.
“We’ve heard from communities that want to keep their pools,” he says. “We’re taking all that into consideration.”