“Once a part of the FPAC swim family, always a part of the swim family.”
“How can I help you?” It seems Mayor Chris Jensen has been asking how he could help folks as far back as his first, early-teen job at the Forest Park Aquatic Center’s (FPAC) concession stand. Today, in his first year as mayor, he’s still asking Noblesville: How can I help? Jensen’s heart for service, he says, dates back to his fond memories of that first job serving up pretzels, hotdogs and popcorn to hungry pool-goers. He’ll admit, coincidentally, that his favorite concession stand snack was, and remains, the pretzel—which is still taking first place as the best-selling concession stand treat in summer 2020.
“My mom used to drop me off in the mornings and then pick me up in the evening after a full day of work and fun,” says Jensen. “It was the best first job ever and it was great to work with friends and get to interact with so many different people.”
Jensen recalls the sense of community he felt working at FPAC and shares that it was his first chance to see what kind of a “family” ran the everyday operation. “They might not all have been blood-related, but once you were in the swim family, you stuck together.” For Jensen, the FPAC is a worthwhile investment both personally and professionally for the city.
“I see the FPAC as a huge asset to the community,” Jensen shares. “One of the things I loved most about working there as a kid was it gave me a front–row seat to meet so many different people from a wide range of demographics in Noblesville that this pool still serves today.”
He’s inspired by the entirely volunteer-based Friends of Central Pool who took over management of the pool in the late 1990s. Without that tireless dedication to sustaining the pool as a community asset, there might not be a FPAC today. And, he’s inspired by old friends, such as Greg Conner—who serves as vice president of the board of Friends of Central Pool—who are coming back and are intent on giving back to Noblesville. It’s the same mission that Jensen has been focusing on in the mayor’s office, too.
“This is my hometown and for so many who grew up here that are coming back to make Noblesville home with their own families, and for those who have called Noblesville home for a lifetime, we are all asking ourselves: How do I reinvest my time to make the city and all it has to offer better?” says Jensen.
Enhancing and improving a treasured community asset like FPAC was the motivation to collaborate with the Friends of Central Pool, providing an infusion of funds from a grant from the city, tied to specifically identified and much-needed improvements. Many of those renovations have already been made and patrons visiting FPAC in 2020 are already enjoying the benefits and upgrades.
“The Friends of Central Pool has done an excellent job of maintaining a major operation,” Jensen points out. “When you invest all of that volunteer time to create a place where the community can come and enjoy the pool and all of the facilities, and you invest in hosting events with organizations from around the state and even on a national level, you have a top-notch facility that you want to see continue to thrive.”
A plan from the beginning, Mayor Jensen says that funding for FPAC came from healthy reserves strategically put in place for opportunities like this one that are long-term investments for the city.
“I understand the role the city can play in supporting Noblesville community assets and this funding assistance will create the environment to let FPAC grow,” Jensen says. “I think many recognize the necessity of community spaces like FPAC and it is important to have a safe space for children to come, to get fresh air, to get exercise in a way that is monitored and affordable. It really takes a village to raise our kids and FPAC is a part of that village for Noblesville.”
The collaborative efforts of the Friends of Central Pool and the city have allowed for the restoration of FPAC to not only be a safe space, but a valuable space within the community. Combining short-term goals with a long-term vision for the facilities to continue to serve the community has allowed FPAC to maintain its treasured historic significance and prepare for a flourishing future.
“If you would have told that 12-year-old concession worker that he would be mayor of Noblesville one day, he probably would have been stunned,” says Jensen laughingly. “That would have been a big change for a kid to think about. What’s nice is that some things really do come full circle—so let’s go see if there are any pretzels in that concession stand.”