In With the New

Getting the best of both worlds in Cleburne, Texas, at its multi-use aquatics facility

There’s always a tension of sorts when it comes time to renovate or replace an old pool. The tension exists between creating what is basically a family fun park and one that allows more traditional usage.

In Cleburne, Texas, parks and recreation seems to have reached that balance with a new two-acre aquatics center that’s a citywide and regional waterpark attraction, and has the ability to host swim competitions and swimming and adaptive recreation programming.

The center opened on July 19, 2004, and includes an eight-lane, 25-yard competition lap pool with a full gutter system and two one-meter springboards, a zero-depth leisure pool with a large spray ground in front, a large play feature with small slides on it, a current channel, vortex pool, a horseshoe-shaped seating are and two large tube slides. The center also has two decks under large pecan trees, shade structures, full-service showers, a party pavilion and concessions.

It was built through improvement taxes designed for a number of community-wide projects, which also includes a 90-acre sports complex. The new aquatics facility would be first on the list of improvements.

Changing Guard

Dubbed Splash Station, the facility replaced the old swimming pool in the same spot, which sits in the city’s historic Hulen Park.

“The old pool was losing water and was to a point that it was in need of major renovation. The community stepped up to the plate and said they wanted something more family-friendly, interactive and enjoyable for younger age groups,” says Brandi Duncan, Aquatics Manager for the City of Cleburne, Parks & Recreation Division. “We did much better than expected, particularly since we didn’t have a full winter season to build on; that was mostly summer revenue. We hope that this fiscal year will be even better, and we’ll actually generate some revenue to expand our operations.”

The more traditional aspects of the aquatics facility — swim and special-needs recreation programming (see the sidebar on page xx for more information about special-needs plans at the facility), swim meets, lap swimming and scuba lessons — will run this winter as the city purchased a large heated and regulated air dome.

“If someone wants a quick fix with something that is not as costly as a permanent structure to provide indoor swimming, it’s a good alternative. We can adjust the temperature inside the dome to any level we want, and we plan to keep it up through the winter, probably until April,” says Duncan. “It’s quite fascinating. It weighs 6,500 lbs., and we get it all taken down and packed up on an 8′ x 8′ skid pretty quickly. It’s about 35 feet high at its center point and is held up with positive air pressure, so it has a huge air handling system. It’s made out of a blend of high-strength polyester fabric coated with PVC on both sides. We’ve had all kinds of things thrown at it — eggs at Halloween, baseballs, golf balls and even BBs shot at it. It can withstand high winds and a fair amount of snow and ice; it’s very reliable.”

Duncan adds that it’s lighted with sports-field lights and has its own generator in case they lose power so that they can safely deflate it, if necessary.

The focus at the park, says Duncan, has been on customer service. Beyond ensuring that everyone has a good time, a lot of it has to do with educating the community about the park rules as it’s quite easy for patrons to misconstrue or misunderstand the rules.

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