FORT WORTH -- The city's historic Forest Park Pool, closed since 2010 because of a failed liner, will reopen next year with a major gift from a Fort Worth foundation, the city said Tuesday.
The Radler Foundation, founded by oil and gas man Michael Radler, a supporter of Mayor Betsy Price, is making the gift and also funded a recent study to determine the extent of the pool's problems. J. Caldwell Custom Pools has been acting as the foundation's pro bono consultant, working with five subcontractors who also are working for free.
As its share, the city will spend up to $200,000 from 2004 bond funds and other sources.
The pool, which opened in 1922, is tentatively set to reopen in May, said Richard Zavala, the city's parks and community services director.
"The Radler Foundation just has a real heart for serving children," Price said during a council meeting where the pool announcement was made.
The city and foundation didn't immediately disclose the gift amount, saying only that the foundation and city reached a preliminary agreement under which Radler "agreed to donate the large majority of the cost required to reopen Forest Park pool."
The city would "match a percentage of the donation" to complete the work.
The total project value has not been determined yet, city officials said. But Councilman Joel Burns, whose district includes the pool, said the projected figure from the study is "significantly less" than earlier city estimates. The city didn't immediately release the study. City estimates to fix the pool have ranged from $1.5 million to fix the liner to more than $3 million for a broad refurbishing of the pool and complex.
"Overall, we don't have a figure yet," Zavala said. "We have a scope."
Bathhouse will remain
The project will include a new liner and repairs to the mechanical and filtration systems, Zavala said.
The deck next to the popular wading pool will be expanded by 4,000 to 5,000 square feet.
One of the diving boards will be replaced, as will the structure for the high dive. The curved slide will be replaced, and the deck around it expanded, Zavala said. The project will also include new furniture and umbrellas.
The old bathhouse will remain in its current condition, he said.
"We're just going to do some maintenance, enough to get us through the next four or five years," he said.
The Radler Foundation, established in 2009, was reserved in its comments Tuesday, and spokeswoman Thais Conway said the foundation and family prefer to remain private. The foundation lists Christian outreach as its mission in federal filings.
Michael Radler is president of Tug Hill Inc., a Fort Worth energy firm. Radler has been a longtime associate of the Dallas billionaire oil and gas investor Trevor Rees-Jones, according to news reports. Tug Hill has sold properties in the Marcellus Shale natural gas play in Pennsylvania to Chevron.
"At The Radler Foundation, we are grateful for the opportunity to support the City of Fort Worth," the foundation said. "Our focus remains on the citizens who will continue to enjoy the convenience of a local community pool."
The firms working with J. Caldwell and providing free services are Elements of Architecture, Evolving, R.L. Woods & Associates, Torres Engineering Services, and K&K, the city said.
The city will seek bids and award one this fall, Zavala said. Construction should begin in November, to be completed in April by the contractor and city workers.
Zavala projected the pool will have a $277,288 fiscal 2013 operating budget, with $65,000 in revenue.
The pool will be open six days a week for 13 weeks. Zavala estimated 450 children will enroll in the Learn to Swim program.
Pool rentals will continue to be offered after general swim hours. Admission fees haven't been determined yet.
Burns said the city will encourage outside fundraising this fall and next spring to raise extra capital for other renovations and improvements to the pool.
The city has some internal mechanisms in place under which donors can make tax-deductible gifts, he said.
Burns said he plans on doing some fundraising, "and I'm hopeful that interested patrons who grew up in the pool, and others across the city who realize what a great resource this is, will step up."
The pool's reopening will be a potential sensitive spot in other areas of the city. The city, citing budget issues, closed several city pools in 2009, with the Forest Park Pool -- the largest -- closing a year later. The Marine Creek Pool reopened for this summer, but is closing after the season and will be demolished to make way for a new aquatic center nearby.
"We still have a gap," Councilman Sal Espino, who represents the north side, said during the Tuesday meeting, pointing out that residents east of Interstate 35 need a pool.
Staff writer Jim Fuquay contributed to this report.