Maintenance problems close five Austin pools

For residents in several East Austin neighborhoods, beating the heat this summer will not be easy. 

Five city pools are currently closed because of maintenance issues.

The only water in Rosewood Pool on Wednesday morning was coming out of two power washers. A work crew was blasting away a recent paint job. "The pool paint was chalking, causing the water to be cloudy, which obviously is a safety issue,” said Jodi Jay - with the city park's Aquatic Division.

The original paint job, according to Jay, was done in house and not contracted out.

"It’s just a fluke incident; we are going to continue to investigate as to why."

Jen Mack was thankful the splash pad was open for her kids and while disappointed about the pool, she is not exactly surprised. "Honestly no, it’s like something happens every year,” said Mack.

The goal is to complete the new paint day and the pool full of water by next weekend. Work is being fast-tracked because Rosewood Park is expected to be crowded for the upcoming Juneteenth celebration.

To provide some crowd relief, Dottie Jordan pool opened early Wednesday. Its 8 miles away from Rosewood.

There are 51 pools and splash pads in the city of Austin and water is flowing at most of them. But Rosewood is not the only pool that is closed for repairs. The gates at given's pool are pad locked. Infrastructure problems there closed it down. Along with the problems at Rosewood and Givens, major leaks have also shut down Govalle, Shipe and Davis pools for at least a year. All but Shipe are in east Austin.

Austin council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria said he is concerned that so many pools are closed on the east side of town because of maintenance issues. He blamed the recent recession and a downturn in the 80s as possible reasons why funding for pool repairs has come up short in past budgets.

“I’ve gone through the budget and we don’t have the money right now so it’s going to have to be in a bond election,” said Renteria.

Some money has been found to plug the leaks at Givens, Govalle and Shipe. Repairs are expected to be completed by the summer of 2018. But money is only a drop in the bucket. An assessment in 2014 identified $40 million in critical maintenance needs at city pools. "So the average age of the city of Austin facilities is over 50 years old, the life expectancy of a swimming pool is 25 years,” said Jay.

A new pool master plan is being finalized.

It is expected to offer new designs and recommend possible new locations. 

How to pay for it will be up to the city council.

A community update on the pool master plan is scheduled to take place Saturday. It will be held in the Pan Am Rec Center on east 3rd street from 10 until noon. Another will take place next Tuesday night at the Spicewood Springs Library.

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