Only a year ago, the Forest Park Pool was full of splashing children and families. Today is it locked and empty, the victim maintenance problems the city can’t afford to fix.
City Council member Joel Burns held a meeting Saturday, June 11, to discuss the current state of the Forest Park Pool and the vision for the future of the pool.
Forest Park Pool closed its operations on Aug. 19, 2010, two weeks before the scheduled end of the summer season, due to failure of the vinyl pool liner, according to Fort Worth athletic coordinator Cory Stuhmer.
More than 50 residents from the 109 and surrounding area met at 9:30 a.m. for a tour of the Forest Park Pool facility, 2860 Park Place Ave., to see firsthand the current condition of the pool.
Susan Kline, a local parks historian, started the meeting by giving residents a brief history of the pool and showing historic photos of the land as it has been developed over the years.
Forest Park Pool was built in 1922 and was the city’s first swimming pool. The last renovations to the pool were in 1991, when a zero-depth entry, vinyl liner and new filtration system were added, according to the Fort Worth website.
Before it closed last August, Forest Park Pool offered amenities such as a three-chute water slide, seven lane 50-meter pool, a 12-foot diving well, a canopy with picnic tables, volleyball nets and lifeguards and staff on-duty during operating hours.
“Forest Park Pool is a unique, multi-functional pool in the middle of the city,” said Tina Chang, resident of the nearby 76110. “You can swim, you can dive and it is all surrounded by trees, making you feel like you are away from the city.”
Chang’s neighborhood association held neighborhood cookouts when the pool was still operating.
“It was affordable to have fun,” Chang said.
“We really want to save this pool — otherwise, it is just a hole in the ground if not put to use,” she said.
Last year the pool certified 458 children to swim through the city’s Learn to Swim program, Stuhmer said.
The pool has also served as practice area for competitive teams in the area, such as TCU’s swim team and the Fort Worth Area swim team. The Fort Worth Area swim team has held practices at the pool since 1997.
Richard Sybesma, TCU swim team head coach, has used the Forest Park Pool for practices for the past 10 years and said he “hates to see a beautiful place closed.” The TCU swim team utilizes the Forest Park Pool because the TCU Recreation Center does not have a 50-meter pool on-site.
After a tour of the facility, a discussion was held at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, where residents received information and could ask.
The pool normally begins operation Memorial Day weekend, closes for maintenance the following week and opens for the summer the first weekend in June, but this year that did not happen.
Admission to the pool for the 2010 season was $2 per child and $2.50 per adult. It costs the city approximately $5 per person to keep the pool operating, according to the Fort Worth website.
The estimated cost as of June 2007 to completely refurbish the pool was an estimated $2.98 million according to a swimming pool audit conducted by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
“It is very heartening to see this many people show up today,” Burns said. “The point of today’s meeting is to take what we know, then go out into the community and have some conversations.”
A second meeting is tentatively scheduled for the week of August 15, in the evening. This second meeting will serve as a listening session to express realistic solutions for the pool, consolidate ideas and gain a consensus of what can be done with the space, Burns said.