City of Dallas: Aging, unprofitable pools should be closed

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on August 22, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 22 at 7:22 PM

DALLAS - The popularity of Dallas' community swimming pools is about as dry as the weather.

The 17 pools open this summer are an average of 50-years-old and just can't compete with suburban water parks.

So today the city council looked at what the wave of the future for water fun should be.

The spray grounds at city rec centers show why people are turning away from community pools.

Mother Eve Newell said water parks are good for all ages as she watched over the children at the Lake Highlands rec center.

"I think they're a great option because kids of all ages can play," Newell said. "Certainly preschoolers love it, but also I think older kids as well can play in it."

Even as children grow older they still don't turn in large numbers to the city's pools.

The average daily attendance per pool is just 37 visitors, submerging the city in a $1.3-million deficit.

The park department said the public sentiment is clear: People don't want to come to neighborhood pools anymore. They want water parks and aquatic centers.

The city wants to close the pools and build three more aquatic centers. The city already runs the successful Bahama Beach park and six smaller family water parks that would come closer to breaking even.

But some worry the $44-million cost for water could mean red ink.

"I just think its over-saturation and I think we'll end up with an operating and maintenance deficit," said city councilwoman Angela Hunt.

And there was regional skepticism who'd get their water first.

Dwaine Caraway represents a district in southern Dallas.

"I do not expect for the pools in the southern portion of this city to be the last bonds sold," he said.

The city will soak up the suggestions and return with another plan. But the new parks wouldn't be built until after a bond election next year.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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