Fort Worth finds money for 50 meter Forest Park Pool

After public backlash to a previous design, Fort Worth’s Forest Park pool we be built to the desired 50 meter length.

After public backlash to a previous design, Fort Worth’s Forest Park pool we be built to the desired 50 meter length.

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Fort Worth’s new Forest Park Pool will keep its eight lane and 50-meter design after residents objected to an earlier plan that would have reduced the pool to four lanes and 25 meters.

At a September meeting, several residents expressed their frustration with the 25-meter design saying it deprived the public of an Olympic-style swimming pool.

That design also limited the depth of the pool to 4.45 feet, which would make it impossible to teach children introductory diving, according to former TCU swim coach Richard Sybesma said. The new pool design will be seven feet at the deep end and taper up from there.

While there is no final design for the expanded pool, District 9 council member Elizabeth Beck said it was clear the public wanted the rebuilt pool to be 50 meters long.

“The city heard you. We heard the community, and we acted accordingly,” Beck said. She credited the collaboration between the Fort Worth Parks Department, Mayor Mattie Parker, and city management.

In an email, a department spokesperson credited public input for the new design, which it said will better reflect residents’ desires.

Chris Reed, who was active in the online community that pushed for the pool’s expansion, wanted more information on upgraded amenities, and how the pool would be operated.

Beck said she’s reaching out to the philanthropic community to help fund programming at the pool such as swim lessons, lap swimming, and water aerobics.

Sybesma was elated to hear the pool would be expanded. He commended Beck for listening to the community and making the 50-meter design a reality.

A 50-meter pool will be eligible to hold swim meets, said Nathan Losch, a former TCU swimmer who was active in the community response. He was happy about the expansion, but also wanted to see the updated design.

The new design will require an extra $3.5 million, assistant city manager Valerie Washington said. She added the city management team is dedicated to finding the funding in the city’s 2022 bond package, which will be presented to the City Council at its Dec. 7 work session.

The council will vote in January on whether to approve the bond package before sending it to voters for final approval in May 2022.

The city has budgeted $7.5 million for the pool in the 2022 bond package. There’s also $7 million for a pool in Stop Six.

The former pool design came from the city’s 2012 aquatic’s master plan. The uniform design for city pools was to keep costs down and ensure equitable facilities across the city, however, Washington said it is important for city government to be flexible and consider the unique needs of each community.

“When you talk about a replacement people expect like for like,” Washington said. “I think it was harder for people to digest the replacement being something smaller than what they currently had.”

She also suggested the city may re-examine the master plan to see if it still meets the city’s needs going forward.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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Harrison Mantas covers the city of Fort Worth’s government, agencies and people. He previously covered fact-checking and misinformation at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as local, state, and federal politics in Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, D.C. He likes to live tweet city hall meetings, and help his fellow Fort Worthians figure out what’s going on. Reach him by email at [email protected], Twitter @HarrisonMantas, or by phone at 817-390-7040.

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