Council Approves 4-foot Shallow End For Rec. Center Pool
Many West U. residents left the crowded conference room of Monday night’s special council meeting happy with City Council’s decision to increase the planned depth of the new Rec. Center’s pool to 4 feet.
The original plan presented to council recommended a shallow end depth of 3’8”. The recommendation was intended as a compromise for shorter instructors and “water walkers” who might have issues standing flat-footed in 4 feet of water.
“With some water walkers it gets get tricky,” said Brittany Bakes, recreation manager. “Swim instructors expressed concern…we were just trying to reach a happy medium.”
Lap swimmers and swim team coaches and parents packed the conference room to raise the issue of safety when swimmers attempt a flip turn in water that is too shallow.
Former Mayor Burt Ballanfant told council that it has been a “constant complaint for years, people scraping their heads on the bottom of the pool” when turning in shallower water.
Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor told council that the City of Bellaire’s new competitive pool at their aquatics facility is 4 feet in the shallow end.
“I think if your highest priority is function for a competition pool, it would be 4 feet,” said Jeff Gerber with PGAL, the firm designing the Rec. Center. “If (the priority is) maximum flexibility, less than four.”
“It strikes me it should be four feet, unless there are huge major problems,” said Councilwoman Phyllis Cohen.
Council also approved Option B, which has the lanes running north to south, with the shallow to deep ends also running north or south, giving each lane equal depth, from 4 feet to 7’6”.
Several audience members questioned council on their plans for Colonial Park pool, which will be rebuilt once the Rec. Center pool is up and running. When asked if there will still be competitive and instructional swimming at the new Colonial Park pool, Mayor Bob Kelly said it has not been decided. This prompted several audience members to raise concerns about each pool being considered individually, rather than as a whole when planning for each pool’s function.