University Park city leaders have been working on renovating the Holmes Aquatic Center within Curtis Park for years.
“The Park Advisory Committee & Park Department unanimously recommended the Holmes Aquatic Center comprehensive plan in 2015, which included Phase 1 and Phase 2,” a citizen website supporting the project reads. Phase 1’s eastern building complex was funded and built in 2016. But the Pump Room and Meeting Room were delayed and became Phase 2 (HAC2).”
The aquatic center on Lovers Lane within Curtis Park was upgraded in 2018 with improvements to the concessions area, restrooms, ticket office, small pool pump room, and existing meeting rooms. Plans for the second phase of work developed at that time include building and structure improvements to the west-end pool building, restrooms, and staff area, as well as a new community center for year-round programming and meeting space.
Now, a former resident and volunteer with the city for more than 30 years has offered to donate $1 million to help move the second phase of the Holmes Aquatic Center project forward.
Per the citizen website, the aquatic center attracts an average of 30,000 visitors each summer.
Alan Stewart, who’s a former member of the city’s parks committee and current member of the legacy advisory group for University Park’s centennial celebration, said the donor, who’s requested not to be identified, has volunteered with the city for 36 years, concurrent with 10 mayors, three city managers, three park directors, and three heads of public works.
“The citizens have actually asked for this community center since 2015,” Stewart said. “His feeling has been that even though he retired, he wanted to fulfill the last request that everybody made of him.”
“My father was a park official in several cities. It’s an interest of mine, and it’s a gift to the city,” the donor told The Dallas Morning News. “I think it’s a very nice thing to have in the city, and most cities have something similar. University Park could benefit from one, too.”
Stewart said the donor’s pledge is conditional on work on the second phase beginning in the city’s centennial year of 2024.
“The community center is kind of like an indoor park, and it’s open to every University Park citizen…it gives everybody from kids to seniors…The ability to have a meeting in the central part of University Park,” Stewart said. “That’s what he wants, and he wants it during the centennial year because he believes it’s going to be looked back on as a great asset for University Park 100 years from now.”
City Manager Robbie Corder said city leaders need a schematic design (a more detailed design) for the project in order to move forward with the second phase, and the issue is expected to come up at a city council meeting in November.
“That’s what we’ll ask the council to do at a meeting upcoming in November is to give us direction on this. At the end of the day, if they want to take advantage of that gift and get a project kicked off next year, we would need to have the council tell us to move forward with getting that schematic design done because right now, we only have a conceptual design, which is basic floor plans and basic renderings of the elevations of the building,” Corder said.
He said the most recent estimates the city’s received put the cost of the second phase at about $9 million.
“I think [the donation] helps, but at the end of the day, the city does have a long list of capital needs,” Corder added.