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Fort Worth Closes Pools, Cites Shortfall

FORT WORTH, TX -- The City of Fort Worth plans to close six of its seven municipal swimming pools this summer because of a $45 million budget shortfall. City officials announced a plan with the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth to open pools at four Y locations for limited public use, beginning on June 5.

Closing the city pools is expected to save $444,961. City officials agreed to pay the YMCA $7,000 for limited use of four Y pools during the summer. Those pools will be open for public use between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Some residents suggest that the city look to private funding to remedy the problem, while others are threatening legal action to probe potential misappropriation of bond funds used to pay for construction of the Northpark YMCA, which is one branch that won’t be offering pool access to the public this summer.

In 2004, voters approved a bond package to build a public community center in the city’s Summerfields neighborhood. Instead the city and the Y split the $5 million construction cost to build the 24,000-square-foot Northpark YMCA, rather than the 11,682-square-foot facility the city could have built on its own, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Y officials say they chose to open pools closest to the closed municipal pools and looked at data on peak usage hours to determine which locations would be open to the public.

“In devising a plan to accommodate more swimmers in our pools, we also looked at usage and at peak swimming hours,” the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth said in a statement. “Our goal was to provide open access without overtaxing our pools or reaching full capacity. Some of our other branches routinely reach capacity during busy summer days, and those locations were not included in this plan.”

And while some residents are offering to raise private funds to keep the municipal pools open, city officials say it’s too late to launch such a plan for this summer. Lead time is needed to hire lifeguards, install equipment and manage a pool, so opening another city pool this summer is impractical, Melody Mitchell, parks assistant director, told the Star-Telegram.

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