Its name is pronounced like that of a certain wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood, but Bellaire, Texas, is less flash, more family.
That lifestyle is represented in the Bellaire Town Square Family Aquatic Center, which is attracting sizable crowds of parents, children and seniors seeking healthy leisure activities.
Almost completely surrounded by Houston on all sides, Bellaire is certainly not at a loss for entertainment — movies, museums, theater and professional sports are at locals’ fingertips. But in a state with a large overweight population, there’s a need for fun that requires more energy than sitting for two hours or walking from a parking garage.
Bellaire recognized that and poured its resources into building its aquatic center, which just officially opened in May 2008. Featuring a six-lane, heated competition pool; a zero-depth entry leisure pool; water slide; two diving wells; three diving boards; an interactive play structure; and, quite possibly, the world’s cutest frog-shaped mini-water slide, the aquatic center is part of the $3 million Center Point Energy Community Center.
In addition to the waterfeatures, the community center has bathhouses, offices and a meeting area. Families can take advantage of the facilities for a $200 membership fee that provides access to the park from May 4 to Sept. 30.
The aquatic center replaced a 50-year-old pool. Attendance and revenue at the new facility, compared with the aging pool, has been explosive. More than 300 individuals have signed up for learn-to-swim classes — and water aerobics and lifesaving courses are netting good numbers as well.
With activities and kid-friendly features that weren’t previously available, Bellaire’s new aquatic center is attracting people who had never thought of dipping a toe in the water. — Neal Broverman