Several dozen University Park residents have started a group called “Save Curtis Park” to protest plans to build indoor pools on public parkland.
They’ve launched a website, started an online petition and distributed yard signs. As of Wednesday, their Facebook page had 350 fans. Their online petition had 501 signatures.
“Save Curtis Park” members say the proposed natatorium would increase traffic, lack adequate parking and compromise neighborhood safety. The group will hold an open meeting at 3 p.m. Saturday at University Park Public Library.
University Park officials have hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study. They will hold a community meeting about the proposal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at city hall.
Highland Park ISD and University Park officials proposed the indoor pool facility in June as a way to share costs and make room for additional classrooms at the high school.
The school district is coping with an enrollment boom, but has little open land to add new schools or facilities. The high school pool, which is part of the school building, would be demolished to make space for 22 to 24 additional classrooms.
The natatorium would be on Lovers Lane, where there are two tennis courts next to an outdoor city pool. City officials say they would build tennis courts elsewhere.
The new park facility would have two indoor pools. Highland Park ISD would use the facility for swim meets and practices. The city would use it for year-round activities, such as exercise classes and special needs programs.
If the plan goes forward, no rezoning would be necessary. Highland Park ISD would fund construction of the estimated $15 million to $18 million complex through a bond package that could go to voters in May. University Park would fund staffing and operations.
Ann Burns, who lives a block from the park, said the city and school district should consider other locations. She says the new facility would create safety risks for students walking or biking to University Park Elementary School, which is across the street. Burns has two children at the elementary school.
“There are so many close calls and near misses there already,” she said. “The idea of having high school kids zooming in and out of here before and after practices is concerning.”
Burns suggested a partnership with Southern Methodist University or the Park Cities YMCA.
Highland Park ISD Superintendent Dawson Orr said the proposal is in the “conceptual stage” and he appreciates the group’s input.
“As soon as we have more information, it will be very important that we all engage in dialogue,” he said.