By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The City of Tulsa plans to eliminate 14 of the 21 pools in public parks, after years of not having enough money to keep them open. The city is working on next year's budget and it doesn't include money for more than a few swimming pools. But, there is money to convert a couple of pools to something that costs less to operate.
It's been years since the City of Tulsa opened even half of the swimming pools. Now the city appears ready to throw in the towel on most of them and focus on operating just a few.
The Tulsa Parks Department plan is to demolish all 14 junior pools and replace two of them with water playgrounds, what the city used to call splash pads.
"They're safer. They're cheaper to operate and they're more accessible for a longer time because there is no life guard. Even if the center isn't open, if you're having a picnic or something you can just go up there and push the button and they come on and you enjoy them," said Tulsa City Councilor David Patrick.
The Tulsa Parks Department intends to start in north Tulsa by demolishing the pool at Chamberlain Park and replacing it with a water playground and do the same at Maxwell Park.
For some neighborhoods, eliminating the pool won't make much difference because the pool hasn't been open in years. The parks department hasn't had the money to maintain them or to staff them with lifeguards in the summer.
Tulsa has a total of 21 city swimming pools, but this plan would eliminate 14 of them. The city would keep the seven full size pools, but open only four of them next year. Swimmers would be charged a $2 entry fee and passes would be available for poor families.
Councilor Patrick says he wants more money for parks, but doesn't believe it can make it into the budget anytime soon. He tells The News On 6 he thinks a long term plan could include converting all the junior pools to splash pads.