Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Water park concepts dependent on costs
Residents in South Texas know the meaning of scorching heat. Temperatures on summer days routinely exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. With such overwhelming, inescapable heat bearing down on us every year, a city pool is an essential resource for all.
However, Victoria's Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool is 33 years old and leaks about 5 inches of water a day. Two outside consulting companies have both determined it would not be cost effective for the city to repair the current pool, which leaves the city with the choice to either pay $2.5 million to build a new pool just like the old one or to take a different approach.
The city is examining three different options for a new facility to replace the pool. Each option is more expensive but also has the potential to draw more visitors from inside and outside of Victoria. First, the city could pay about $3 million to build a 2,758-square-foot pool with a slide. Second, for about $4.5 million, the city could build a 8,512-square-foot facility with two slides, a lazy river and a spray ground. Third, for the estimated cost of $6 million, the city could construct an 18,000-square-foot water park with a lazy river, water basketball, three slides and a wet deck.
It is true, it would be cheaper for Victoria to simply replace the current pool, but an upgraded facility would be much more likely to attract more visitors than simply replicating the current pool, which has six swimming lanes, some small slides and can accommodate 300 people, according to the city's website. (http://www.victoriatx.org/parks/pool.asp) Residents who want to use swimming lanes have other low-cost options available, such as the VISD natatorium or the YMCA pool. Victoria needs something fresh to help bring in not just residents but also visitors from outside the city, who will spend money in other places, such as gas stations, restaurants and retail outlets.
Of course, the biggest issue is how will the city pay for any new facility? According to Victoria Finance Director Gilbert Reyna, the city is considering two options - passing a bond issue or pulling money from other projects - but we suggest a third. Why not look into a public/private partnership?
Small water parks have proven successful in other towns, such as the Splashway park in Sheridan, and we believe Victoria and the surrounding communities alone could provide enough attendance for one to prosper here. If people from outside the Crossroads visit as well, both the city and a private investor could profit.
We are glad to see the city is examining multiple options to replace the current pool, and we encourage the City Council to consider all of the options carefully. Victoria could profit from a water park but how big of a park depends on how much of an investment the city is willing and able to make.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.