The University Park City Council sided with a large segment of its constituents on Tuesday when it rejected the idea of building a natatorium in Curtis Park.
The proposed joint-use indoor facility — in partnership with Highland Park ISD — would have been located adjacent to the existing outdoor Holmes Aquatic Center. However, Mayor Olin Lane and all four council members dismissed the idea because of concerns over traffic, costs, and logistics.
“I am convinced that the intersection of Lovers Lane and Dickens is too heavily traveled,” Lane said. “It’s obvious to me that the traffic does not need to be increased in that area.”
The idea stemmed from discussions last year between the city and the school district. HPISD hopes to eliminate its existing swimming pool at Highland Park High School as part of an upcoming bond election in order to use that space for more classrooms.
Once it was announced last summer that Curtis Park was the location under consideration for such a partnership, it led to a wave of community opposition that included an online petition and yard signs against the idea, and culminated in a contentious public forum at City Hall.
Then the city commissioned a Colorado firm to conduct a feasibility study about the concept, the results of which were finalized in December.
“I would take Curtis Park off the table,” said council member Taylor Armstrong. “In the end, it comes down to a [school] district problem.”
Indeed, Lane said UP won’t close the door on a potential partnership, but will wait for HPISD officials to propose any other potential sites before discussing it again. So far, the district has not unveiled any other options for a small component of a massive bond package it hopes to send to voters this spring.
But now HPISD knows for certain that its first choice for replacing its natatorium won’t work.
“I think we should do everything we can to help the school district,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Begert. “I would encourage the school district to look at campus options.”