Fort Worth gets ready to open Forest Park, Marine Park pools

Posted Friday, May. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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There’s a small chance of rain Saturday, but it’ll be a good day to get wet in Fort Worth regardless.

The city, which closed its pools amid budget cuts in 2009 and 2010, is bringing back the historic Forest Park Pool on the near south side and opening the Marine Park Aquatics Center on the north side – Fort Worth’s first all-new pool since 1960.

“It’s huge,” said Mayor Betsy Price who, like other city officials, was long on superlatives.

This week, crews have been polishing the facilities. Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the city is hosting a two-hour, $25-a-ticket public fundraiser – no swimming permitted – at the Forest Park pool. The money will go to swim lessons for needy children at both pools and future capital needs at Forest Park.

The Forest Park dedication and opening will be 10 a.m. Saturday, and the Marine Park dedication will follow two hours later. Admission to both pools is free all day Saturday.

The pools – Forest Park was repaired and the city demolished the old Marine Park pool for the new aquatics center – were Fort Worth’s most popular municipal pools, serving inner-city families who don’t have other places to swim, Price said. The pools will help children get fit and keep them off the street during the summer, she said.

“I learned how to swim at Forest Park,” the mayor recalled.

City Councilman Sal Espino, who represents the North Side, remembers walking to the old Marine Park pool with his brother when the two were children.

“Countless generations of North Side kids have done that,” Espino said. “It is a great day for the North Side and the people of Fort Worth; we have brought back municipal pools.”

Councilman Joel Burns, who represents the near South Side, called the pool openings “worthy of celebrating.”

Forest Park, closed in 2010, is re-opening after $830,000 in repairs that included a new liner and all-new piping. The city added new concrete decking, more lounge chairs, six “Coolbrella” shaded picnic areas, and more disability access, and replaced a slide and diving board.

“The majority of this is the same pool that was here,” David Creek, an assistant parks director, said during a tour earlier this week.

The big facility, which includes an Olympic-size lap pool, diving well, a “zero beach” wading area and has a total capacity of 750 swimmers, re-opened with a $500,000 grant from the Radler Foundation in Fort Worth, $330,000 in city funds, and donated services. The construction contractor donated half its profit, said Scott Penn, city project manager for both projects.

Burns is interested in seeing a group establish a nonprofit to support the pool, which was built in 1922 and was later expanded to include the dive well and zero beach. His goal for the Thursday fundraiser is $10,000. So far, about $5,000 has been committed, he said.

The fundraiser will include beverages from Rahr Brewery and Times Ten Cellars, food from Tommy’s Hamburgers, music, and a visit from animals at the adjacent Fort Worth Zoo.

“In order for Forest Park Pool to be successful, it’s going to have to have continued public-private support,” Burns said.

Marine Park

The smaller Marine Park pool, which has a capacity of 350 swimmers, largely follows the footprint for future city aquatics centers set down in a recent master plan.

It includes a wading area with interactive children’s waterscape, water slide, 25-yard lap pool, submerged deck with lounge chairs, shaded picnic tables, Spanish-style bathhouse with restrooms and changing areas, vending machines, and lockers.

Money for the $3.8 million project, which anchors the northeast corner of Marine Park, the old North Side’s main community park, came from community development block grants and city capital project reserves.

The city also put $286,000 in improvements into the park at the same time it built the aquatics center, including a picnic shelter on the site of the old pool, a memorial to the late neighborhood leader Betty Ward, a skate park, 14 benches, 20 picnic tables, and new sidewalks.

The city’s aquatics center master plan calls for four more $4 million facilities, including ones on the East, West, far North and South sides, with the East Side the top priority, city officials say. None are currently funded.

The city’s budget for the pools calls for making up 66 percent of Marine Park Aquatics Center’s operating budget from its fee revenue, and 50 percent of Forest Park Pool’s from revenue.

“It’s a great asset,” Price sad. “Long-term, it’s probably not a money loser, because it keeps kids off the street.”

Pool openings

Memorial Day Weekend at the pools:

Forest Park Pool dedication: 10 a.m. Saturday. Pool closes 7 p.m.

Marine Park Aquatics Center dedication, noon Saturday. Pool closes 7 p.m.

Admission free all day Saturday.

Sunday: 1 p.m.-7 p.m.

Monday: Noon-6 p.m.

Forest Park admission: $3, age 17 and younger, $4 adult. Season Passbook: $67.50, youth; $90 adult

Marine Park admission: $5, age 17 and younger; $6 adult. Season Passbook: $112.50, youth, $135 adult.

Pools re-open for season June 1. Forest Park open all days except Mondays, Marine Park open seven days.

More info, including ways to donate: http://fortworthtexas.gov/forestparkpool/

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808 Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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