There’s some new hope for one of Texas’s most loved and missed swimming spots. Today Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation announced they’re partnering with energy company Apache Corporation to cover pool repairs at Balmorhea State Park.
The iconic West Texas swimming hole has been closed since May when a portion of the pool wall collapsed during an annual cleaning.
The state estimates repairs will cost $2 million.
“Shortly after the pool was closed we set up a fund for those pool repairs,” said Susan Houston, director of philanthropy at TPWF. “And then we received the call from Apache that they wanted to support this extreme need.”
Apache will match up to $1 million of the total funds raised, which Houston says the foundation hopes to have done by the end of the year.
In a statement to Marfa Public Radio, Apache spokesperson Castlen Kennedy said the partnership was a “natural choice.”
“The Balmorhea pool is an iconic West Texas destination for Texas families and is critically important to the Balmorhea community, a community where many of our employees live and work,” said Kennedy.
The announcement comes nearly a week after the state said it determined “years of undermining erosion” caused damage to the pool.
The damaged concrete slab was first installed in the pool in 2005. It covers up a concave area in the natural spring wall, keeping swimmers out from beneath the diving board. Earlier this summer, park superintendent Carolyn Rose said the slab was still cracking and the debris were posing a risk to the populations of aquatic creatures in the water, including endangered desert fish.
According to the state, the plan is to replace the damaged concrete covering. But crews will have to demolish and reconstruct it by hand, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“Due to the sensitivity of the site and the presence of endangered species, no heavy equipment will be used during construction. Hand demolition and removal will be required for all materials.”
Officials haven’t yet named a firm start date for reconstruction, but park superintendent Rose expects repairs to begin in mid-August. She guesses the work might last several months.
Rose says she’s confident that the pool will be open by next summer at the latest.
In 2016, Houston-based Apache made a massive energy discovery in the West Texas area. The company has pledged to not drill on or under the state park or the town of Balmorhea.
Read the full article at and listen to the story at: http://marfapublicradio.org/blog/apache-corporation-partners-with-texas-parks-and-wildlife-foundation-to-cover-pool-repairs-at-balmorhea/