Webber Park Natural Pool Project Pushed Back


An exciting project—the nation’s first natural public pool set to be built in north Minneapolis—has been temporarily put on hold. Minnesota’s particularly cold 2013-14 winter and abnormally wet spring has literally dampened plans for the 28,000 square foot swimming area that was originally set to open this year.

Project manager Cliff Swenson said of the Webber Park project, “construction wasn’t able to start as early as we wanted to.” The $4 million revolutionary pool will have to wait at least another year.

Webber Park has served the community of north Minneapolis since 1910 when a spring-fed swimming pool was first built. Just a decade later, it was converted to chlorine. The latest reincarnation of the park’s aquatic recreation was a 30-year-old, rapidly deteriorating concrete swimming pool and wading area.

Instead of just building another traditional swimming pool, the city decided to develop a mini-lake that would serve the area. Swenson said, “even though it will look very much like a pool, the water quality is like a lake. [We’re] intending to give this atmosphere of going to your pond or your lake for a swim.”

The designs to alter the 22-acre Webber Park began in late 2012, planning to incorporate lap lanes, a diving area, and a water slide. It would effectively triple the amount of recreation space available to pool attendees and the water would be filtered and cleaned without the use of traditional sanitizers like chlorine. The way the sanitation would work is by water from the swimming area flowing into a biological filter. From there, it percolates through a regeneration pond filled with hydroponic plants, gravel, and other aggregates.

Unlike some other natural pools, this one would be lined and not be filled with soil or plants in the immediate pool area, according to a representative from BioNova Natural Pools who is working with Landform (the Minneapolis-based engineering firm handling the renovation) to construct the swimming area.

And what’s the overall goal of the build?

“We really want to create a natural place where people will want to gather,” said Robert Schunicht, VP of Landform.

And hopefully that goal can still be achieved, although residents will have to wait until next June which is the estimated opening date at this point.

When the Webber Park natural pool does open, it’ll be the first of its kind to be made available to the public here in the US. These pools have become very popular in Europe and many are hoping it’ll spark more national interest if it becomes a success.

Because of the low operating costs, it is likely that the pool will be free to the public.

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