As visitors to Austin-area pools multiply, some local municipalities are having a hard time accommodating all those would-be swimmers. That’s the case with Hamilton Pool, which is managed by Travis County.
“We’re reaching capacity nearly every day – weekends and weekdays,” Dan Perry with Travis County Parks told county commissioners Tuesday. “We’re turning away probably 70 percent of the people that are coming to the park because we have very limited capacity.”
As a result, park managers proposed and commissioners approved a summer reservation system for Hamilton Pool visitors (running between May 1 and Sept. 30 each year). This requires swimmers to make a reservation online beforehand, pay a $10 reservation fee (plus a $1 processing fee for credit cards) and then pay the usual $15 parking fee once they arrive at the pool. These fees would be a per car fee.
Before voting to approve the new reservation system, Commissioner Gerald Daugherty worried that without a vigorous campaign to educate swimmers, many would make the drive only to be turned away.
“Huh…we needed to do what?” Commissioner Daugherty said, impersonating an uninformed visitor.
Perry explained that the swimming hole has become a national and international destination.
“Google anything about swimming holes…the 10 best swimming holes in the United States, in the world, Hamilton Pool shows up,” he told commissioners.
Travis County will handle reservations for either a morning shift from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or an afternoon shift from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., granting visitors four hours of parking during one of these slots. While staff estimates this new system will result in up to 20 percent fewer visitors, they anticipated seeing a nice return to the tune of an additional $127,000 in annual revenue for the county.