The Penn Park public pool will again open its doors this summer for youth of all ages to take a relaxing dip while making lasting memories.
The pool was slated for closure by the city due to lack of funds for its operation and needed repairs. However, due to the efforts of local resident Cindy Camp and others, closure was not seen as an option.
“During one of the chamber of commerce meetings (Waxahachie City Manager) Paul Stevens was giving us a financial update on the city and he was reading off a list of items that were getting cut back. He then mentioned that the city swimming pool was not going to be opened up this year,” Camp said.
“It was like oh my gosh that is not right that this pool is not going to open and something like this happening is not right,” she said. “I asked him how much money was needed and he told me that $15,000 was needed to hire the lifeguards and repairs for it to open. So I thought, I know my husband and I can make a donation and if I can call 14 other friends and get a $1,000 each then the pool can be open. It didn’t quite happen like that, but it was a good motivator.”
Due to the downturns in the economy, the city was looking to cut some items in the budget to meet its financial obligations. Camp was able to raise around $7,500 for the project. Along with those funds, Parks and Recreation director John Smith applied for a grant with the Waxahachie Foundation and received a matching amount for the rest.
Camp noted that the project will not be just a single one-time effort but will continually raise money for the pool so that it will be able to open up year after year.
“We don’t do an official opening. We just do a soft opening after we train lifeguards starting on June 8. The pool opens on June 12 and they come flooding through because they are standing their watching and waiting,” Smith said.
In addition to the pool opening for the summer, the park itself is getting some help from local and area businesses to make some much needed improvements.
“Home Depot called me about three weeks ago and the southwest district of Home Depot stores take on a project every year or so. This year they wanted to choose a project that is located in Waxahachie,” city community relations manager Amy Hollywood said.
“They asked me if we had any ideas for a project and I mentioned that a lot of things are happening at Penn Park and that might be a good outlet,” she said. “It’s an all-volunteer program and they have about 40 to 50 employees that come out and do the work. It’s a big work event and they are not just from one single store in this district.”
Smith sent out a wish list of items in need of repair or replacement that the volunteers from Home Depot could work on, including painting buildings, repairing the backstop on the small baseball field, installing traffic control fencing and bumper posts, adding picnic tables and benches, planting shade trees, adding a large covered pavilion and overseeding the football field.
Home Depot is not the only company to have volunteers working at the park. Volunteers from Wal-Mart have worked at the youth center in the park doing needed repairs to the building, which is occupied by a youth boxing program, Rock Solid Boxing.
Residents who are interested in making donations to the pool for its continued operation can address them to City Manager Paul Stevens, 407 S. Rogers St., Waxahachie, TX 75165, and mark it “Penn Park Pool Donation.”
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