AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several city pools are set to open in the coming month, but a couple will not open at all this summer. The Parks and Recreation Department determined 25 of the city’s 36 pools are in need of repairs, mostly for water leaks.
Metz Pool, on Austin’s east side, and Mabel Davis Pool, on the south side, will remain closed for the summer. PARD officials say the repair work needed at those pools is so extensive they are keeping them closed to cut costs.
“Our average age of our pools is 50 years old,” said Cheryl Bolin, the aquatics division manager. “With that comes a lot of maintenance. They develop leaks, and so that increases our fees for water, electricity, chemicals, and day to day repairs.”
“All my life, it’s been there,” said Veronica Bravo of Metz Pool. “I learned how to swim there when I was 2 or 3 years old.”
She says it is disappointing after 30 years of enjoying the pool in the summer to not be able to go this summer.
“When we were young, we were like, ‘Oh, it’s going to open this day. We’re ready.’ We couldn’t even sleep because we were so excited it was going to open the next day,” said Bravo. “It’s actually a little bit sad because we have a lot of our children that we like to take in the summer.”
Bolin says seven other pools are at risk of closing in the next five years. Funding is in place to fix Shipe and Govalle pools, but as for the rest, PARD determined it would cost around $41 million to get them up to par. For now, PARD and the Aquatics Division determined closing some down is the best option.
On Wednesday, PARD and the Aquatics Division will make a presentation to the city’s Open Space, Environment, and Sustainability Committee. The department hopes the city can afford to give more to their budget for the coming year.
“Our city’s swimming pools are one of our greatest summertime resources,” said Committee Chair Council Member Leslie Pool. “It’s disappointing that we see them close or reduce their hours every year because of budget constraints, but this budget year I hope I and my council colleagues can find a creative approach to keeping our pools open.”
Staffing the Pools
Tens of thousands of dollars are being spent to recruit lifeguards for the summer. So far, the city has hired 133 people. More than 500 have submitted applications.
The Austin Parks Foundation offered the first 500 lifeguards $100 as a signing bonus.
The Aquatics Department said they also need supervisors and swim team coaches.
The Parks Department tells us they expect to spend $10,000 on recruiting.