“The first pool in Noblesville was a glorified swimming hole carved out of the White River in the early 1900s. We have come along way since then.”
Doug Church has watched Forest Park Aquatic Center (FPAC) grow tremendously over the last few decades. Thanks to Church’s efforts as the President of Friends of Central Pool Inc. (FOCP) and co-founder of the Noblesville Adult Swim Team, Inc. (NASTI), FPAC continues to thrive today. He explains the history of FPAC, along with how groups such as FOCP and the NASTI’s keep the pool afloat.
“The story of FPAC begins in the 1930s,” says Church. “During the Roosevelt administration, the Works Project Administration (WPA) decided to build a swimming pool in Forest Park in Noblesville.”
The pool was built in an awkward shape. It had no special features, nor was it used for competitive purposes, like FPAC is known for today.
“In the 1970s is when the Hamilton County Parks Department (HCPD) was created,” says Church. “It was the county’s first parks department and it was looking for projects across the county to gain support for its efforts. Among the various projects, for Noblesville it was a request to replace the aging WPA pool. HCPD agreed and a long term lease was entered into permitting the HCPD to build a new state of the art facility on the property owned by the City of Noblesville Forest Park.”
“HCPD built a 50 meter by 25 yard pool and a 25 yard by 20 yard, 18 foot deep diving well with a 10-meter diving platform,” says Church. “At the time of its construction, it was one of the finest outdoor diving and swimming complexes in the country.”
Twenty years later, during the 1990s, the Forest Park pool was in bad shape. It suffered all sorts of problems due to receiving little to no maintenance during its entire time of operation. The HCPD was subsidizing the pool to the tune of $25,000 to $50,000 per year. They decided they were done, and they wanted to be released from their lease obligations with the City of Noblesville.
Swimming pools are holes in the ground into which you pour money,” shares Church. “The city didn’t want the pool turned back over to them and the county didn’t want to operate it. There was a big hoo-ha over what to do.”
The future of FPAC looked bleak. Church, who had co-founded the NASTI’s in the 1980s, an adult U.S. Masters Swimming team based in Noblesville, knew someone needed to step in…
Check back next Monday for part two to see how a network of committed volunteers keep a valued community asset up and running and have since 1996!