Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

City implements pilot program to reduce entry fees at regional pools

Kennedy Weatherby
The entrance to Bartholomew Pool on June 30, 2024.

Austin Parks and Recreation implemented a pilot program to reduce regional pool entry fees this summer to make the city’s pools more accessible and increase attendance.

Walnut Creek Pool waived its entry fees for the summer, and Garrison Pool and Bartholomew Pool will offer a couple of free days during the summer, said Lucas Massie, assistant director of Austin Parks and Recreation.

Massie said the city eliminated entry fees at Mabel Davis Pool last year and saw attendance almost double so the city wanted to further explore restructuring pool entry fees this year. 

City Council Member Alison Alter authored a resolution in April directing the city manager to pilot reduced entry fees or free swim days at several pools this summer. According to the resolution, better access to more recreational opportunities has numerous physical and mental health benefits and is a key council priority.

“As our city experiences increasingly hot summers, we must continue to explore options to increase accessibility to heat relief,” Alter said in an email. 

Wyatt Rubey, Plan II junior and director of first aid for Longhorn EMS, said having better access to activities to cool down can potentially help lower cases of heat-related illnesses amidst Austin’s hot summers. 

“I think (the pilot program) would benefit the Austin community because it provides a way to cool down, and sometimes those fees and barriers stop people from using those amenities,” Rubey said. “As a community, it’s really important to support those that don’t have access to ways to cool down.” 

Massie said the Parks and Recreation department wanted to pilot the program before making any permanent decisions to ensure they are prepared for the kind of attendance the pools will gain. 

“We don’t want to put ourselves in a spot where our staff was maybe underprepared for the number of people to come to the pool,” Massie said. “We want to be sure that we’re properly staffed and everyone’s gonna come to the pool and be safe and leave safe.” 

Alter said Austin Parks and Recreation will utilize the attendance data from the pilot program to help inform future city decisions about pool accessibility. 

“We recognize that piloting this program will likely have the effect of greater attendance, which is something that we’re interested in,” Massie said. “And we’ll continue to work with our city leadership and policymakers to make the best decisions for our community moving forward. And if that means eliminating the fee at certain pools to increase attendance, then that’s what we are going to do.”

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