Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
The city of Fort Worth spent money to fix-up pool for this summer only. New aquatic center will soon take its place.
This weekend, people in Fort Worth began taking a dip in a city run swimming pool for the first time in three years.
Billy McMillian and his friends are cannonballing into the marine park pool, something that they hadn't been able to do in those three years.
The Marine Park pool on Northwest 20th Street reopened at noon on Saturday. City council members agreed to spend nearly $150,000 to fix up the pool for this summer only.
In 2009, Fort Worth facing a budget crisis was forced to shut down city pools.
"We used to come here every summer, every single day we were here,” Larry Cuestas, a swimmer said. For years, this is where Cuestas and others on the Northside cooled down from the stifling Texas heat. Now, it’s the place where he'll show his 7-year old son how to swim.
"I was sad to see it go,” Alex Ritzhaupet, a lifeguard said. “So it's an exciting moment for me."
Meanwhile for Ritzhaupet, Saturday’s reopening is a homecoming of sorts. Four years ago the pool was his first assignment ever as a city lifeguard. And now it's his duty to keep those frolicking in the water safe.
The pool is so popular in this community that the last time it was open in 2009, more than 11,000 people came out.
However, the 86-year old pool will close for good at the end of the summer.
A multi-million dollar aquatic center will soon replace the pool. It will be built near the current site.
"I like to tell people, you got your money's worth out of it, it's fully depreciated. It's time to build a new one and we're going to do that," said Richard Zavala, Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Director.
The Marine Park pool will be open six days per week during the summer. Other parts of the city can access local YMCAs for public swimming. It is the third year the city has partnered with the YMCA.