Lines were long all weekend at the newly renovated Bartholomew Pool (1800 E. 51st St.), and not just at the entrance. Inside, giddy neighborhood kids (who have been without a pool in the Mueller and Windsor Park area since Bartholomew closed in 2009 because of cracks) waited their turn to test-drive all of the pool's new amenities, more than any other pool in Austin.
Built back in the 1960s, Bartholomew Pool was originally a 50-meter-long L-shaped pool with a diving well and wading area. After a 2006 bond package that allocated money to fund Deep Eddy improvements, rebuild West Enfield Pool and renovate Bartholomew, the city spent three years seeking out neighborhood input and a firm to design and build the new pool. Originally slated to cost around $4.7 million and be completed in 2013, unexpected asbestos found on the pipes and issues with groundwater infiltrating the work site added another year of construction and about $1 million to costs.
Now, the sparkling new pool, which officially reopened Friday, June 6, is divided into three areas: two child-friendly pool areas and a separate four-lane, 25-yard lap pool with a 12-foot deep-end and diving board well. A four foot child-friendly pool area features a "lily pad" bridge running across it, while the other has a fountain splash pad, beach entry and miniature frog water slide. Both child-friendly pool areas are partially covered by shade structures, and green grass surrounds the perimeter of the pool, allowing for plenty of prime sunbathing spots.
The pièce (s) de résistance, though, are two side-by-side, Schlitterbahn-style, winding blue-tube water slides. Both slides start from the same point, with one taking sharper curves and ending relatively quickly. The other is a longer but smoother ride. Lifeguards are stationed at the bottom of each. As of opening day, an unofficial survey of repeat slide-riders found that the jury was out on which slide was a superior experience.
Bartholomew Pool, located at 1800 E. 51st St., is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm and Sundays from 12 pm to 8 pm. Admission is $3 for Austin adults, $4 for non-Austin residents; children under age 1 splash for free. More information is available here.