2021 Polar Bear Plunge Canceled

Hi friends. We have some sad news to share: the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge has been canceled.

We are so bummed, but we look forward to many more joyous days at the pool.

And remember, the pool is currently still open on a limited schedule if you need a fix.

Austin Parks and Recreation Department wants to see your past NYD photos with the hashtag:
Please tag us, too!

via the City of Austin Government:
In consultation with Austin Public Health and City leadership, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department will not open Barton Springs Pool on January 1, 2021 (New Year’s Day), and the 2021 Polar Bear Plunge event is canceled.

This decision was made after careful consideration of the local characteristics of the virus and related community priorities. It’s been determined that this event should not proceed during Stage 4: COVID-19: Risk-Based Guidelines.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department would like to commemorate the Polar Bear Plunge, and asks prior attendees share photos/videos of past events on social media using the hashtag #polarplungeatx.

The Department hopes for a return to this time-honored tradition in 2022 while this year Austinites share their memories of prior Plunges.

For more information on City pool schedules, visit austintexas.gov/pools.

The Pool Re-Opens!

Hi friends!

The Good News:
The pool re-opens June 9th! The pool will open every day at 5 a.m. for a swim-at-your-own risk session until 7 a.m. On Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, following an hour of cleaning, the pool will be open for 2-hour reservations between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Get your reservations at austintexas.gov !

The Bad News:
We don’t have a date for our next  volunteer pool cleaning session yet. Stay tuned!



The end of the year is nearly here and FBSP is excited once again to participate in the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Years’ Day! We hope to see you all at the Pool this New Years’ Day to greet the new decade with a refreshing dip in the clear calm waters of Barton Springs and give a warm welcome to our 2020 FBSP Board.

Visit us at our booth on the south side of the Pool anytime between 9:30 and 4:00 on January 1 to meet our new Board, get information about membership and volunteering, and of course, to grab your 2020 Polar Bear Plunge swag!

Before the holidays, the 2019 FBSP Board welcomed three new members to its group of dedicated volunteers. After much deliberation, I decided the time had come to pass the torch to a new president and I am thrilled to announce that Stacey Buchanan will take over the role of president for the 2020 season. Stacey is an enthusiastic supporter of Barton Springs Pool and I am confident she will carry out the mission of the FBSP organization dutifully and faithfully. FBSP additionally welcomes David Cochran to the role of Vice President (replacing Ashley Todd who assumes the treasurer chair for the 2020 season) who will steer our ongoing efforts with the aquatic planting project, and Mark Jensen, who joins us as a talented and much-needed communications

President: Stacey Buchanan
Vice President: Dave Cothran
Treasurer: Ashley Todd
Secretary: Sarah Williams
Advocacy: Mike Cannatti
Communications: Mark Jensen
Fun: Carole Geffen
Fundraising: Brian Keogh
Membership: Renee Weissend
Service: Marc Czo

Update on the Aquatic Plant Nursery at Zilker Botanical Garden 

A huge thank you to the Barton Springs Conservancy which was able to secure grant funding for this project and to the Zilker Botanical Garden which agreed to set up a nursery for aquatic plans that will support increased aquatic plantings in the Pool. FBSP is shepherding more than 130 plants its volunteers added to the Pool this year with high hopes the plants will survive until spring and increase the biodiversity that is critical to the Pool’s ecosystem!

As my final duty as president, I personally would like to welcome Stacey, David and Mark to the Board, offer a huge thank you to the Board’s continuing members all of whom tirelessly serve FBSP year-round, Sarah Williams, Carole Geffen, Marc Czo, Ashley Todd, Renee Weissend, Mike Cannatti, and Brian Keough, and bid a fond farewell to Laurie Evans, who served as a superior advocate for the Pool and I know will continue to do so in her future endeavors. I feel humbled to have served in the role of President for so long and am grateful the Austin community is fortunate enough to have so many faithful stewards of Barton Springs Pool. I am jazzed about this new board and am looking forward to my role as a past president and proud future member of FBSP.

See you at the pool,
Steve Barnick, Past President

Splash! Sheffield Education Center — Education Exhibit Community Meeting (December 5, 2019) — Join Us!

Please attend the Community Meeting at Barton Springs Bathhouse this Thursday (Dec. 5, 5:30-7:30pm, BSP Bathhouse, 2201 William Barton Drive).   The meeting will provide community members with an opportunity to share their views on what Splash! Exhibit has meant to them and to help PARD identify how a revitalized exhibit space can continue to educate the next generation of visitors to Barton Springs.  As understood, the objective of the meeting is to solicit input on guiding design themes for use by interpretive planning consultant (fd2s) which is working on the education exhibit design process.

Throughout the Bathhouse Rehab project, we have emphasized the importance of making environmental education a key part of any final bathhouse design that improves the visitor experience.  Indeed, there is strong agreement that the best and only way to preserve Barton Springs is by dramatically increasing our education efforts and public outreach to our growing population to educate the citizens and local officials about the threats to the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs, and how we as a community can protect it for future generations.  While there are many, conflicting needs at the bathhouse that compete with the educational function, we want improved and updated education to be part of the bathhouse visitor/entrance space, even if other topics should also be included.  Generally speaking, this can be achieved by advocating for the following design outcomes at the meeting:

•            Including a rotating exhibit space in the design;

•            Emphasizing that exhibits should emphasize natural elements, and should not have an excessively “computer screen design” feel;

•            Including exhibits that convey pool water quality/quantity information in real time;

•            Requiring that any Art in Public Spaces have a thematic connection to the “place” or “science” of Barton Springs;

•            Including cultural and/or historic content in the exhibit design;

•            Consider using exit routes through rotunda for education opportunities;

•            Including live salamander or other native plant/animal life in the exhibit;

•            If the exhibit space will be air-conditioned, keep current/east entrance opened for pool entrance access;

•            Provide design to enable day teaching opportunities for swimmers;

•            Show status of watershed protection land acquisition of Edwards Aquifer and city’s history in acquiring development/easement rights;

•            Include stewardship opportunities for taking action, including pool behavior, conservation measures, private philanthropy, and bond support for watershed protection; and

•            Emphasizing that the educational content should, in addition, focus on the pool experience (e.g., swim experience, culture, history, etc.).

These seem like good guiding design values that leave plenty of room for design options that can be developed by the architects.

For the latest information on the Bathhouse Exhibit project, be sure to visit the city’s Sheffield Education Center Exhibit website for information on project goals and timeline for upcoming community meetings where you can join the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works Department, and other Barton Springs Stakeholders to provide input for the exhibit design process.

Board Officer Election Results for 2020

We are pleased to announce that Friends of Barton Springs Pool has elected the following slate of officers for the upcoming year, 2020:

Stacey Buchanan, President
David Cothran, Vice President
Ashley Todd, Treasurer
Sarah Williams, Secretary
Mike Cannatti, Advocacy Chair
Mark Jensen, Communications Chair
Carole Geffen, Fun Chair
Brian Keough, Fundraising Chair
Currently Vacant, Membership Chair
Marc Czo, Service Chair

The recent addition of Stacey Buchanan and David Cothran to the board brings a ton of energy, environmental expertise, and passion for all things Spring-y.  All of this and more will be needed to fill in for Steve Barnick and Laurie Evans who now have earned some rest and respite from their roles as board president and treasurer.  Our deepest gratitude to Steve and Laurie for the years of service, and also to Stacey and David for their willingness to step up to the board leadership positions.  Thanks y’all!