Parks Board approves alternate pool plan



With a quorum of three, the Liberty Hill Parks & Recreation Board narrowly approved a revised swim center plan for City Park, adding two swim lanes to the design.

Board members Mary Lyn Jones and Liz Branigan voted for the change, with Mike Wilson opposed.
Wilson’s opposition centered on how much of the pool space would be taken up by swim lanes for a small group of people, versus the general use area.

“You’re cutting the rest of the pool to the general public in half,” Wilson said. “I think you underestimating how many people are going to try to go to this pool, and if you section off all that area for swim lanes, you’re cutting the access to the general population at this pool.”

The idea is that the lanes will be in place for designated hours for lap swimming and open at other times, and Jones said this was a way to further provide something for everyone in the pool project.

“There were a lot of people in the community who wanted the swim lanes, and with the high school starting the swim team, we wanted to work with them,” she said. “When we started this we had a limited space, a limited budget and we had to make the design fit all those parameters. So I think we’ve done a good job in getting what we can.”

Branigan supported the change, but her endorsement was more focused on making sure the community got the pool it has wanted, rather than the changes themselves.

“I see this as better than having no pool at all,” she said. “When we started thinking about this for our community we wanted a pool for the community to enjoy, which is better than no pool at all. This is probably better than no pool at all.”

The decision to consider a new design came after City Council Member Wendell McLeod raised the question about swim lanes to accommodate high school swimmers at the July 9 council meeting.

The redesigned plan cost about $5,300, but there is no estimate yet on how the design change will effect construction prices. The new design brings the pool size down from 4,800 square feet to about 4,350 square feet. It will still include the zero-entry and has added a “tanning shelf” with the lap area on the opposite end.

“I like the way they did it and I think it is something council will be willing to support,” City Administrator Greg Boatright said.

Plans still include the splash pad, which is roughly 2,000 square feet at an estimated budget of about $150,000.

The pool house is roughly 1,300 square feet and is an open-air facility with restrooms, pavilion area and changing rooms. There will be no heating or air conditioning. The plan is to have restrooms and a potential vending area accessible year round for park users, even when the pool is closed.

Plans also include fencing, shade structures, landscaping and grass areas surrounding the pool deck. Also included is a parking lot with approximately 60 spaces, along with an improved entrance on County Road 200. The original budget for the project was about $1.2 million.

The new design will go to the City Council for approval next.

Skate park?

McLeod also said at the July 9 council meeting that the city should look again at including a skate park at Wetzel Park.

As city staff has looked at the option, Boatright said three possibilities exist, which include finding space for it at Wetzel, placing it across the street on other city-owned property, or at another location in the downtown area where other park space is planned.

“One of the things we will be looking at is whether or not there is room in Wetzel to accommodate both a splash pad and a skate park,” he said. “One of the things that we could look at alternatively is the Burnett tract that we have across the street, which we should receive next week the design for the parking there. That will give us a good idea of what we have left over. As an alternative we could look at the proposed dog park at the end of Myrtle, at the intersection of Myrtle and Stubblefield.”

If the skate park is not included within Wetzel Park, Boatright said a plan will be needed to ensure safe crossing of Loop 332 from one area to the other.

“If we do some kind of recreational activity on the Burnett tract, we need to make that accessible between Wetzel and Burnett without a surface crossing,” he said. “I don’t want families and kids crossing that. An underpass is what I see. It would be a unique feature for both tracts to have that.”

Bids have been received for construction at Wetzel, but a contractor has not been notified because the four bids were all over what was budgeted for the park.