New plan in place to determine which Austin pools stay open
Austin City Council approved the Parks and Recreation Department's Aquatics Master Plan Thursday night. The plan will help determine which pools get fixed, which close, and whether to build new pools.
Cara Welch, community engagement specialist with the Aquatics Department, said the newly approved plan acts as a road map for the future.
Given the age of many of Austin's community pools, more than a dozen pools are expected to fail within the next five years. "They're losing too much water because of leaks, and the cost to keep them up is just at a point where it doesn't make sense to continue investing into that," said Welch.
The new plan ensures council will have a final vote before any pool is decommissioned. Welch and the Parks Department say they've heard countless stories of how much these pools mean to the community, and understand the desire to keep them open.
"There are generations of people who have really been able to love the pools," said Welch.
A task force created by city council recommended possibly closing about 10 undisclosed pools to help save money. The cost to upgrade the currently failing pools would be at least $135 million. However, each year, additional pools need repairs.
"The pools are currently on life support, sort of speak," said Welch.
The Aquatics Master Plan will help rank pools on dozens of factors including its condition and attendance.
It also lays out the option and cost, $57 million, to build 5 news pools in underserved communities. The task force also recommended sending a $124 million bond package to voters to help maintain, upgrade and build new pools.
"I'm a fan of taxes going towards good things like improving our community and making it a more livable space," said Alison Fader-Brock, a mom of two whose family frequently goes to community pools.