July 12th marked the 6th Annual Shipe Park Pool Party, hosted by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association and sponsored by Grande Communications. Parents, children, and neighbors alike enjoyed food from Best Wurst and Café Hornitos, late-night swimming hours, and The Lego Movie.
Live music from Brazilian band Os Alquimistas also added to the lively soundscape of laughing children running on the green, watchful adults socializing, and of course, splashing. With hundreds in attendance, the night was a great testament to both community interest in Shipe Park and the bonds between our neighbors.
The impressive turnout came as no surprise to the party’s organizer and Shipe Park activist Adam Wilson, who experienced first-hand the community passion and interest that saw the Shipe Mosaic Mural to its completion last year. While the event was a well-seized opportunity to celebrate the privilege we share in having a beautiful community hub, it was also the time to raise awareness about the threat of losing it.
Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) announced in 2011 that the 80-year-old pool had a mere five-year life expectancy. This summer, shell leakage and pump issues forced temporary closure; and although the immediate problems were addressed, restoring the pool will take more work. The fate of the pool may hinge on the upcoming 2014 PARD Aquatics Assessment report, which aims to determine if city funding would be better spent on smaller neighborhood pools or larger regional pools and splash pads.
District 9 city council candidates Erin McGann and Kathie Tovo were there to shed light on their campaign views, including the polarizing topic of funding for neighborhood pools. McGann spoke mainly of promoting local business and increasing infrastructure spending, yet expressed a desire to maintain public parks on a regular basis. Tovo declared her commitment to the neighborhood pool system, citing her belief that access to these smaller pools are crucial to sustaining the quality of life for families in the expanding city of Austin. She added that she and her daughters once relied on Shipe Pool while living in a nearby neighborhood, as many without a local pool do today. Ian Davis, who made a brief statement on behalf of candidate Chris Riley, acknowledged his own connection to Shipe Park as a former camp counselor and reflected Riley’s regard for community building.
If you agree that the Shipe Park facilities are an invaluable asset to the strength of our community, there are ways to become involved in advocacy efforts. Jill Nokes, a Hyde Park resident and founding member of Friends of Shipe Park, recommends the following ways to show support:
- Contact your local representative to speak up on behalf of Shipe Park and all 27 neighborhood pools in Austin (www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members)
- Come to organized park events like It’s My Park Day in March
- Join Friends of Shipe Park by visiting their website or Facebook page.
Staff Writer Intern