By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
Leonard Park Aquatic Center, now open to the swimming public, got an official introduction Thursday by way of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy joked about oft-publicized delays in the pool’s opening — and this included the ribbon-cutting itself, which commenced a few minutes behind schedule.
“I think it’s only appropriate that we’re a little late,” he said Thursday.
Goldsworthy and City Manager Barry Sullivan joined guests in hitting the pool and the mayor was selected to inaugurate the diving board. Goldsworthy admitted the process of finishing the new Leonard Park facility, which replaces an aging pool long in need of replacement, sustained lags related to funding and the build itself.
The mayor credited Gainesville City Council and the city’s parks and recreation board for their efforts during development.
“We’ve talked about this pool for probably, no kidding, 10 years with the parks board,” he said. “So we’ve got targets like that, which maybe stay under the radar until they come to fruition. But it’s as nice as any pool as I’ve seen in the north Texas area and Gainesville deserves it.”
The $2.4 million pool was funded by a surplus of city sales tax revenue that proved healthier than expected but was unavailable until only months prior to this summer’s pool season, which meant it couldn’t open in time for a June opening.
The pool was originally set to cost $1.6 million but surplus funds allowed Gainesville officials to spend more on enhancements.
“We wanted to get it open this year but when we started, we only started after we had the cash for it,” Sullivan said earlier in July. “The original start wasn’t the ideal timing to start, as far as the ideal opening for the summer. But having the cash was ideal, and so was not having to put 70 grand into our old pool just to make it operational for one season.”
The new aquatic facility features multiple slides, a diving board and “human hamster” rides. It also now offers swimming lessons, private party rentals, evening aerobic classes and a movie night scheduled for once per month. Such programs were also available at the former Leonard Park pool and now they’re being relaunched into a seven-day-per-week schedule during the summer season in 2014.
“It’s an asset and a real jewel for north Texas,” Goldsworthy said Thursday. “Everybody’s been waiting for the grand opening patiently and it took longer than what we thought, but we wanted it done right. And we want it here for many, many years to come, and I think we’ve accomplished that. It’s fantastic.”
For information about the pool and its rental availability, plus the summer programs, call (940) 668-4530.
By GREG RUSSELL
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