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Clapp Park pool reopens as splash pad plans progress, but not in time for this season

City of Lubbock’s Clapp Pool, 4500 Ave. U, reopened for the summer season on Sunday.
City of Lubbock Parks and Recreation
City of Lubbock’s Clapp Pool, 4500 Ave. U, reopened for the summer season on Sunday.

Lubbock residents will have limited options for places to cool off this summer.

There are several aquatic centers in town that are accessible through memberships or day passes. The City of Lubbock’s Clapp Pool, 4500 Ave. U, reopened for the summer season on Sunday. But last year, the city council voted to convert other municipal pools into splash pads.

City council members approved the change in September on a 4-to-3 vote after it was determined that renovating the pools located in Rodgers, Mae Simmons and Maxey Parks was too expensive. Kalee Robinson, development manager for the Lubbock Parks and Recreation Department, said the splash pads will likely remain under development until next summer.

“We are still in a design phase with a splash pads builder right now,” Robinson said. “And so, we're closer and closer to getting those to city council and getting approval for those designs.”

Splash pads, sometimes called “spray parks,” are water recreation areas where the water is propelled out of the ground or from a water feature surrounded by non-slip surfaces. Splash pads have steadily gained popularity as aquatic recreation venues for their convenience, low-cost and ability to conserve water.

Lubbock’s municipal pools were each built between 1953 and 1958, and lack steel and rebar framework, Robinson said. Clapp Pool, the oldest and largest of Lubbock’s municipal pools, consistently experienced the largest annual attendance of the four at nearly 20,000 patrons between 2016 and 2019, according to the parks and recreation department’s approved master plan.

Beneath the shells of the pools were wooden posts that deteriorated over the years, eventually leading to the decision not to allocate resources toward their refurbishment. Although Clapp Pool survived the city council’s purge, the parks and rec department identified multiple areas that require improvement— such as its “unreliable drainage system” and sunken concrete that has led to algae growth, among other issues.

In addition to a roughly $7.8 million disbursement of American Rescue Plan Act funds for the splash pads, city council approved $5.1 million for the projects. Because the water gets recirculated by the pads, Robinson said they use less of it and can operate for longer periods of time than municipal pools typically do.

“We're well aware that a splash pad does not replace a pool by any stretch of the imagination,” Robinson said. “We know that it definitely does not provide the exact same amount of aquatic experience. But where we're at right now with the budget and what we were able to do, we felt these three splash pads were the best option that we could put forward for the citizens at this point in time.”

City council’s approved operating budget for the fiscal year included over $15,000 for water slide refurbishments for the pool at Clapp Park. Clapp Pool’s season began May 28 and will run through Saturday, Aug. 5.

Robinson said a more robust municipal aquatics center is “something that is part of our department’s plan,” but no specific details are yet available. The parks and rec department’s master plan calls for increased aquatic capacity by 2032 based on National Recreation and Park Association guidelines that recommend cities with populations of up to 250,000 have one swimming pool for every 69,051 residents.

“Right now, it's nothing that’s set in stone as far as a budget is concerned,” Robinson said. “I know city management and city council also realizes having that option for our citizens is definitely something we want to get to. It's truly just going to be a matter of where we can find that money and how we want to go about funding that larger project.”