Such great and welcome news for Hyde Park! On September 9, the Austin City Council approved a 2015 budget package that included a last minute additional request for money to replace 7 pools, including both Shipe Pools. In a recent aquatics assessment, these 7 pools were predicted to “suffer mechanical or structural failure within five years.”
While the City Council could not find the money in this budget cycle to replace all the pools, they did select the Shipe Pools and Govalle Pool to receive $6.3 million, with Shipe receiving $3.1 million for replacement of the aging pools and mechanical systems. The budget also included funds to reopen the new Bartholomew Pool as a year round pool effective as soon as they can schedule the lifeguards and prep the pool.
According to Cheryl Bolin, aquatics director, the money will be received in October and set aside while the process of community input, design, bidding and construction is conducted.
Hyde Parkers will have much to think about as they identify goals for the new pools. What would residents like to see in a new Shipe Pool? Diving board? Swim meets? Or should it retain the same footprint with new facilities? The new Westenfield Pool is a recent example of an aging pool that was replaced with a big pool, along with a fun baby pool area, bathroom, first-aid office, equipment storage area, native landscaping, sculptures and shade structures.
We applaud Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) for bucking the national trend of closing neighborhood pools in favor of big municipal ones, something that has happened in Dallas and Houston. Fort Worth also lost all of its neighborhood pools until the community managed to reopen one of them with private funding. Austin City Council and PARD listened and responded to our requests to keep our neighborhood pools open, in accord with the Imagine Austin plan. We salute Council member Laura Morrison who has chosen to focus on neighborhood pools as one of her legacies and Kathie Tovo for her tireless support of our neighborhoods and parks, including Shipe Park. And we thank Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman and the entire City Council for voting to save Shipe Pool!
Stay tuned to the Hyde Park listserv and the facebook page Friends of Shipe Park or Shipepark.org for more information regarding the community input portion of the process. Exciting days are ahead.
Friends of Shipe Park