The best preparation for a visit to the new north Minneapolis Webber Park pool is to think of it as an urban swimming hole.
Overdue and over budget, the pool finally opened last Friday. Bathers kept it busy if not at capacity all weekend.
Long before it opened, the pool got national attention for its chlorine-free natural filtration system and naturalistic design. Its best feature is the price: It’s free, but open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The waters provide room to roam and offerings for all tastes and abilities.
There’s a 25-yard, four-lane lap-swimming section with lane lines always set up to keep swimmers from veering into each other. While the lap area has black lines on the bottom with crosses to signal proximity to the oncoming wall, there are none of the usual vertical lines on the walls, which makes the distance surprisingly difficult to judge for those used to flipturns.
A walled-off kiddie pool and a shallow end both have zero-depth entries. The pool has additional areas of medium depth and a diving well with a faux wood diving platform that appears to resemble a lake raft. That’s it for accouterments. There are no bouncing springboards or twisting water slides.
The on-deck facilities are similarly spartan: a handful of bolted down bus-stop style benches provide the only seating other than grassy ground. Tree cover is virtually nonexistent so sunscreen is important.
The only opportunity for refreshments Sunday was from the pizza truck parked on the street. Only bottled water is allowed in the pool area.
Don’t expect a cleansing shower after a dip. Cold, open-air showers are on the deck, but there are no locker rooms.
One happy bather said she liked getting out of the water with neither the smell of chlorine nor lake water on her skin.
The water does not smell. It does have a color — translucent pea green, which may be fine with those accustomed to lakes.
Dedicated pool swimmers, however, will miss the crystalline blue water and the comforting scent of chlorine-scented skin.