Photo provided
Forest Park Aquatic Center in Noblesville, which features a water slide, splash pad, climbing wall, new zipline, diving well and “Big Al” diving board (above), heated Olympic-size pool and zero-entry kids pool, is accepting Early Bird membership registrations through Saturday for its 90th anniversary season.
Photo provided Forest Park Aquatic Center in Noblesville, which features a water slide, splash pad, climbing wall, new zipline, diving well and “Big Al” diving board (above), heated Olympic-size pool and zero-entry kids pool, is accepting Early Bird membership registrations through Saturday for its 90th anniversary season.
I encourage the community this week to buy a Forest Park Aquatic Center Early Bird membership to help celebrate the 90th anniversary of a pool in Noblesville’s Forest Park.
Whether you visit the pool every day of the summer or just a couple of times a season, it’s the memberships that keep the pool open, along with sponsorships and donations.
It’s that money that helps to maintain and operate the pool and to pay the necessary lifeguards and teenagers whose first jobs are working at the pool’s concession stands.
It’s memberships that preserve our wonderful community pool “for generations to come.”
And this year, the community’s pool celebrating its 90th anniversary indeed demonstrates the great support from our community. Early Bird membership rates are available through Saturday, May 1, and may be purchased online for the first time in pool history thanks to an investment in CivicRec, a new online recreation management software that’s also used by Noblesville Parks & Recreation. The pool has already experienced a lot more people taking advantage of the Early Bird pricing, thanks to the online registration.
And instead of the paper membership cards, members will receive a fob tag that can be scanned at the gate of both the Forest Park Aquatic Center and at Morse Beach, both in Noblesville.
The original Forest Park Pool opened to the public on Thursday, June 18, 1931, to grand reviews. As reported by the Noblesville Daily Ledger, a crowd of about 500 people attended the official grand-opening ceremony, after which the public was invited to enjoy the new pool free of charge for the rest of the day.
The original pool was demolished in 1976 and replaced with the pool that we see today.
Many of our readers have wonderful memories of spending time at either of our Noblesville pools, learning to swim, diving off of the “Big Al” diving tower or just hanging out there with friends.
Greg Conner is one of those whose love for the pool has grown since he was a kid. His involvement dates back more than 30 years ago, to 1990, when he was an 8-year-old member of the Noblesville Swim Club. Conner worked at the Aquatic Center in a variety of roles while growing up, including lifeguard, head guard, assistant manager and director of operations. Now he’s a board member of the Friends of Central Pool, which is a nonprofit volunteer organization that was formed in 1996 to help save and renovate the pool. In 1997, the name was changed to Forest Park Aquatic Center, a name more fitting of a community venue.
“Forest Park Aquatic Center is such a great amenity that our community is so fortunate to have,” he said.
Conner, 38, a 2001 graduate of Noblesville High School, is now vice president of the board of directors for the nonprofit and among 426 members who belong to the Noblesville Adult Swim Team (NASTI). He and his wife, Lisa, have four children, Blake, 12, Bryce, 9, Drew, 7, and Nora, 3, all who use the pool. His oldest three swim with Noblesville Swim Club.
“It would be cool to try and capture some of the stories and memories from the community through the years,” Conner said. “I bet there are a ton of folks with fun memories.”
Conner is hoping that the community will share their old photos and memories of the pool this year during the 90th anniversary. He asks that folks email him at gregrconner@gmail.com.
When the 2021 season opens on Memorial Day weekend, on Saturday, May 29, a new Aqua Zip’N will await adventurous pool guests. The zipline was delayed in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic and installed in October 2020. “It’s ready to go. In fact, a couple of the volunteer members took the liberty of going off of it yesterday during one of our cleanup sessions,” Conner said on Monday. “We’ve filled the competition pool, and it’s only 52 degrees, but they couldn't resist … It’s a pretty cool piece of equipment that I think the public’s really going to enjoy getting to use this summer when we open Memorial Day weekend.
The Zip-N -- which “is like the modern safe version of the old-fashioned rope swing” and swings out, then returns to the deck for the next person -- was purchased as part of the updates and improvements in 2020, thanks to a $500,000 gift from the City of Noblesville.
“We are extremely appreciative of the support Mayor (Chris) Jensen and the Noblesville Common Council continue to provide. Their commitment to the Forest Park Aquatic Center is something the residents of our community should be extremely proud of,” Conner said.
The rock-climbing wall, which was closed due to the pandemic in 2020, will return in 2021.
Many of the pool’s improvements our community has not yet even had the opportunity to see, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the updates are remodeled locker rooms with new flooring, new painting and new LED lighting in the dressing rooms, which weren’t open during the 2020 season. New outside restrooms were also added and were in use last season. Both the male and female dressing rooms and the outside restrooms will be open this season for the general public. Also, a new sound system was installed in 2020 with a more professional type of music broadcasting system.
Before the pool opens this season, repairs will have been made to pool liners due to a leak in the diving well, plus repairs to the filtration systems, new pumps on both pools, and a heater repair. “We’ll make sure that the water’s warm come Memorial Day weekend,” Conner said. While these were items that guests might not see, guests will take notice of the repainting of splash pad features, including the water tower, and some of the pool features that weren’t working have been unclogged, all made possible through new sponsor Community First Bank.
Pool guests will also notice the opening of a concession window that faces out into the park so that Forest Park visitors can purchase concessions from outside of the pool. Tater tots, French fries and quesadillas will be new on the menu, along with a few surprises, and the menu will be back to normal pre-pandemic. Soft drinks, which were served in cans in 2020 due to the pandemic, will continue being served in cans.
The pool will staff about 60 employees for the 2021 season. Job openings were posted in late March with hiring already started. Shifts are 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to close. A pool employee must be a minimum 14 years of age. Those ages 14 will be allowed to only work one shift for concession or front-gate work. About 25 to 30 positions are lifeguards who must be age 15 or older and eight guards, on average, are on duty when the facility is open. While 75 percent of the positions are filled by kids, many of whom are returning from previous seasons, applications are still being accepted, Conner said. Lifeguards can work at Forest Park and/or Morse Beach. While some guards have a preference, the pay is the same. Kim Bowling is the pool’s director of aquatics.
The annual Noblesville Brewfest & Wine Garden to benefit the aquatic center was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and filling the gap of the usual $40,000 to $50,000 in fundraising has been a challenge, Conner said. “Not being able to have that fundraiser certainly hurt us. We’ve been able to do some other fundraising; we had an online art auction which was pretty successful. But having that gap at Brewfest has definitely been a challenge,” Conner said.
Thankfully, almost all of the Brewfest sponsors didn’t ask for their money back. (This year’s Brewfest will be Sept. 25, and tickets are already on sale.)
And despite the pandemic, the pool had a really good season in 2020, Conner said.
While opening a week late, on June 3, 2020, there were 26,604 pool guests who paid the daily pool fee, compared to 26,534 in 2019.
In addition, membership sales were significantly higher last year, Conner said, with 153 family memberships and 26 single memberships purchased (Individuals must be 14 or older to enter the pool without adult supervision.) He attributed the busy 2020 due to the warm month of June, and also people weren’t going on vacation and athletics weren’t happening, due to the pandemic, plus people were feeling a little more comfortable about getting out.
He also said, “The City of Noblesville is extremely fortunate to have a facility like Forest Park Aquatic Center, and I don’t think they wanted to see things go bad for the pool. There’s certainly an element of people who bought their membership because they’ve bought it every year,” Conner said.
Plus, there were several swimming and diving groups from area schools using the pool to practice in summer 2020. While most of those schools have moved back to their own facilities in 2021, the aquatic center has picked up a number of summer camps, including Noblesville Parks’ camps, which will be coming to the pool, and Ripfest Diving Camp returns for 12 weeks.
During the 2021 season, the 90th anniversary will be celebrated during a special event that’s still in the planning, including a week or weekend of celebration possibly with live entertainment.
Conner said he’s very thankful for the “loyal people, the extremely loyal people” in our community who support the pool.
He said, “Really, the biggest thing that people in Noblesville can do to help the pool is to purchase a membership.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.