Our City’s New Public Pool!

“Swimming pools and public space generally have the potential to foster a vibrant community life by counteracting many of the segmenting and alienating aspects of modern life. They offer an informal social space — a meeting ground — where people separated by differences, large yards and high fences, busy lives, and electronic entertainment can interact and communicate face to face. Municipal pools can humanize relationships between people. They enable the sustained and unhurried interaction neccessary for members of a community to meet, forge bonds of friendship, and develop a sense of shared interest and identity.” — Jeff Wiltse, Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, 2007, p. 207-208

At the end of May, we started seeing headlines. Our city was opening a new public pool!

We’ve been complaining about our back yard’s lack of a pool for quite some time. We wrote a blog post last summer about the amazing salt water pool at Midtown’s hidden gem, the Lattice Inn. But a public pool? And it only costs a dollar to go? Heck yes, count us in.

But first, a scouting mission. We knew from the media reports that the pool was at 2390 Congressman W.L. Dickinson Drive, but that’s not a side of town that we often are on. It’s in a sort of industrial area, over near something called Thermalex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Aluminum since 2008. There are not really any visible signs directing you to a city-owned pool.

The list of city pools on the city’s Parks and Recreation website can be seen here. It makes no mention of the new pool, or what hours it is open. And the pool doesn’t appear to have a Facebook page or any meaningful social media presence. Maybe a little website work and some search engine optimization would go a long way towards letting folks know about this awesome new pool.

Our city government evidently maintains five pools now, including this one: Houston Hill, McIntyre, Sheridan Heights, and one with a title that just screams “summer fun,” the Therapuetic Recreation Center. Nothing says “recreation” like “therapy!” We may check these pools out eventually, but we first wanted to see the new one, the crown jewel in the city’s fleet of pools.

On the scouting mission, we noticed that the new pool is right next to a super freaky old building, with blasted out windows and an open door, overrun by vines and weeds, the kind of thing that will inspire a million horror stories in the minds of the people who swim at the pool. On the one hand, that’s kind of awesome. On the other hand, it’s a little unnerving.

We also noticed a bunch of skateboard ramps sitting in a field near the pool. It was the remnants of our beloved downtown skate park! Evidently the city plans to assemble this all into a new skate park out by the pool, but it didn’t seem like they were due to make the “July” start date that they had told the media at the unveiling of the new pool. There didn’t seem to be any of the smooth pavement of concrete that makes for good skateboarding, just a lot of disassembled ramp pieces.

So, armed with a photograph of the sign (see below) telling us the hours of the pool, we set out again on a hot July day to go swimming. And it was great!

There’s not a ton you can write about swimming except to say that the water was warm and clean and inviting. The water slides were awesome. There were kids, but not too many kids. There were people, but we also had enough space that we didn’t feel crowded. The lifeguards were attentive but not intrusive. The pool itself is huge, and well-designed. Everything was tremendous!

Look, a lot has been written about public pools, especially the unsavory bits from our nation’s history. We live in a world where a lot of people don’t know how to swim, and those statistics are simply horrifying. We need more time away from computer screens and phones, and we all need more exercise. Our city’s new pool meets so many needs, and we’re thankful in a world of constantly constricting municipal budgets that our city is making this pool available. We will be back soon.

A few consumer pro-tips we learned from our visit:

  1. Bring some chairs. Your camping chairs or tailgating chairs will be perfect. There’s not a ton of shade, and there are not a ton of places to sit. If you like to sit near a pool and read, you’ll want a chair.
  2. Bring some cash. It’s only a dollar to get in, but you need to have old school paper “folding money” to pay the admission.
  3. Bring some sunscreen. That’s just obvious common sense advice.
  4. There are no lockers, so leave your wallet and phone in the car, or have someone to sit by your stuff. Not that folks would take stuff, but it’s always good to be safe.
  5. Use the slide! It’s so great!

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, 14 fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.


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There Are 5 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Heather Coleman says:

    The super freaky old building is Gunter Terminal building from before 1929– https://www.facebook.com/TimesGoneBy/photos/a.603878382976459.1073741840.132495483448087/132755966755372/?type=3&theater and the pool site is here– https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gunter-Swimming-Pool/201755863203047 (hope those work!)

  2. Griff Waller says:

    Heather nailed it, and the City’s Building Maintenance department renovated several of these historic structures. They either are currently or plan to use as a headquarters and office space for their department. We’ll try to dig up more information because it should make for a very interesting story. As for the website issues and lack of information: Parks & Rec will update it.

  3. The Gunter Pool hours are as follows:

    Monday – Friday: Public Swim: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
    Lap Swim: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    Monday & Tuesday: Public Swim: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    Wednesday – Friday: Public Swim: 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    Saturday: Public Swim: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Sunday: Public Swim: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    It is $1 per person and Swimsuits are required.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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