The city of Fort Worth presented two possible designs for the rebuilt Forest Park Pool to a crowd of about 50 residents Thursday.
It follows a contentious September 2021 meeting where several residents expressed their dismay that a proposed design would have halved the size of the current Forest Park Pool.
Several residents praised the new designs with one woman calling them a “herculean improvement” over the previous meeting.
However, some remained frustrated with the fact that the rebuilt pool won’t be heated, saying it cuts down on the opportunity to teach important swim lessons that protect children from drowning.
Both designs would maintain the 50-meter length of the current pool, while deepening the adjoining childrens’ pool to slope from ground level to 3.5-feet.
The biggest difference was the positioning of the bath house.
One design positioned the bath house on a slightly raised hill, similar to the current layout, while the other placed the bath house on the same level as the pool.
Both designs also incorporated a small U-shaped driveway, which could be used to place food trucks on the far side of the pool near the pumphouse.
“The designs are awesome,” said Nathan Losch, a former TCU swimmer who was active in the community response.
He was disappointed, though, that the rebuilt pool won’t be open year round.
“That’s a big gut punch right there,” he said.
Gigi Goesling, a swim coach who started the online petition to pressure the city to abandon the original pool design, said year round swimming is crucial to maximize the amount of opportunities Fort Worth kids get to learn how to swim and how not to drown.
“Kids don’t just drown between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” Goesling said.
She also pointed out that Fort Worth only has three public pools for kids to learn to swim.
El Paso, with a population two-thirds the size of Fort Worth, has 15.
The city won’t be able to keep Forest Park Pool open year round because it’s too expensive to heat, said Parks Department director Richard Zavala.
It would cost over $100,000 a year to heat the pool according to city estimates, Zavala said. Construction of the gas line needed to supply the pool heaters was estimated to cost an additional $145,000.
Zavala said the city of Fort Worth hasn’t put enough of an emphasis on aquatics. He said the city stopped building pools in the 1960s, and that previous efforts to address the pool shortage through bond measures hadn’t received funding.
“The good news is we got two in this bond program, and we’re going to put two in 2026 and I think those will get funded, so now we’re on that roll to make those adjustments,” he said.
The council voted in February to approve a $560 million bond package, which in addition to pools would fund road construction, and new facilities for the police, fire and library system.
Proposition B, which allocates $123,955,500 for parks and recreation improvements, includes the $11 million for Forest Park Pool.
Voters will decide May 7 whether to approve that funding.
If approved, construction would begin in early 2023 with the goal of opening in time for summer 2024.
This story was originally published March 10, 2022 10:03 PM.