Diving platform removal among Omaha park changes

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – At a time of year when the ice skating rink at Omaha’s Hitchcock Park might be the center of attention, the city has turned its attention to the pool and the legendary diving board. Its all part of the proposed use of $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that Omaha has earmarked for parks and public property.

”We’ll be taking out the high dive which is been inoperable or out of operation I guess for several years now,” director of Omaha’s Parks and Recreation Department Matt Kalcevich said. “We’re going to bring in some new features, so we are evaluating what might be the best fit there in terms of diving board, rock wall, these things that I know other young people have seen in other facilities around the community and the country.”

Yes, that 32-foot-high, triple-tier diving platform is going away. At times its high perch the point of late night escapades, turning dangerous, like this past summer when trespassers had to be pulled out of the pool to safety.

“Safety is our number one priority and we probably will do some things because we have to take a portion of it down to do the work,” Kalcevich said. “Replace the fence and come in with something I think that’ll be a little more stylish, a little more functional, maybe a little more secure.”

Infrastructure and improved safety are part of the overall plan to bring several pools, including the 46-year-old swim facility, up to date.

“Other facilities like Mandan Park, Pipal Park, we’ve got (James F.) Lynch Park and several others that are going to see real, noticeable, tangible transformation,” he said. “It was really the goal of the project, really working within the criteria, (to see) how could we make peoples’ lives better, how could we make it more accessible, what can we do to just really sustain the (positive) existence for the community.”

The only Olympic-sized pool among the city’s 18 aquatic facilities, Hitchcock opened in 1970 and is often used for club and school swim team practices. Kalcevich said they are working with those groups to help find alternatives until 2024 when they hope a newly reimagined Hitchcock Pool opens.

Hitchcock is just one of the dozen park projects presented to the city council in early November for ARPA allocation. Approval of a little more than 1-point-5 million in funds for the Hitchcock, Mandan and Papal Park projects will go before the city council Tuesday.

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