Early on during the FY2009-2010 budget process, City Manager Mary Suhm made it clear: She was going to close most of Dallas's neighborhood pools -- which she did, shuttering next summer all but seven of the 21 operated by the city. There was also much talk of cutting in half the operating budget for the Bachman Therapeutic Recreation Center -- from $997,967 to $593,440. Anything to reduce the water bill.
As it turns out, one of the benefits of both budget cuts is that Dallas now has its first city-operated indoor pool: On November 21, the 42,000-square foot therapeutic center originally built to serve the disabled makes its debut as the Bachman Indoor Swimming Facility, which will be open year-round and feature a full slate of water aerobics classes (including, um, Salsa Splash, which just sounds messy). It'll also be available for party rentals.
"We're introducing it to the general public," says Robin Steinshnider, manager of the city's Aquatic Services department, which is under Park and Rec. "And, yes, we're also looking for more revenue-generating opportunities, but it's good service-wise because Dallas citizens didn't have a way to take swimming lessons in the winter or get water exercise year-round. This is a way to maximize the use of the pool." Steinshnider says the hope is to make the pool self-sustaining so that if and when it comes to chopping-block time again, there won't be such a fight just to keep the doors open.
"There was a lot of support for it from the community" during the myriad rounds of budget cuts, she says. "And there was somewhat of a reduction in the operating expenditures and cuts in the staff, but we'll make the most out of what we have left. ... We hope it becomes our busiest pool year-round. People never knew it was here -- and if they did, they didn't think it was for then. Well, yes, it's here, and, yes, you can use it." Every day. Jump for the brochure Steinshnider sent touting the pros of your latest swimmin' hole.