Over the past two decades, many rectangular neighborhood pools that were state-of-the-art in the 1950s and ?60s became the ?dinosaurs of the industry.? Communities have been faced with the choice of renovating these old aquatics facilities or closing them, experts say.

Recognizing the need for aquatics, and the need to provide fiscally sound recreation that appeals to a wider audience than the old-school swimming facilities, many cities have transformed their ancient pools into modern moneymakers with multigenerational appeal.

As a result, today?s aquatics venues look and feel much different than they did in earlier days. One of the biggest changes is that pools now are to more likely to be located as part of an overall recreation facility, notes Alison Osinski, Ph.D., Aquatic Consulting Services in San Diego.

Operators also are moving toward multiple pool facilities. ?Instead of one pool trying to do everything, we?re saying, ?Let?s build special pools for special uses,?? Osinski adds. For example, the newest facility may have a lap pool, a therapy pool and a leisure pool instead of one pool that handles all three needs.

Facilities also have become more aesthetically pleasing, with greater attention to landscaping, open deck space, natural lighting and theming. The stark look is out, industry experts note. ?It?s all about creature comforts now,? says Judith Leblein Josephs, CPRP, founder of Judith Leblein Josephs Enterprises, LLC, in New York. These might include amenities such as private rental cabanas or a large comfortable picnic area.

As a result of these changes, pools are much more appealing and accessible to a wider public. This means operators are facing a need for more diverse programming than ever before. ?Today it?s not just the swim team parents ?yelling? about having a competition pool, other groups want ?[pool time and programs] for us,? as well,? Osinski notes.