Victoria, YMCA consider pool partnership

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Dec. 21, 2013 at 6:21 a.m.
Updated Dec. 22, 2013 at 6:22 a.m.

Kayla Muniz, 8, left, and Syklee Espinoza, 8, right,  slide into the water as other children wait their turn to take a swim test  at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool on June 13, 2013.

Kayla Muniz, 8, left, and Syklee Espinoza, 8, right, slide into the water as other children wait their turn to take a swim test at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool on June 13, 2013.

Victoria officials are treading water when it comes to keeping the 33-year-old Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool open.

After conducting a $50,000 study and months of deliberation among the parks commission, the Victoria City Council is considering whether to move forward on a $6 million concept from the parks commission or scrap the project and partner instead with a nonprofit, pool-centric organization.

Chris Seilkop, president and CEO of YMCA of the Golden Crescent, wants the city to commit $1 million to a pool partnership, which is part of a $4 million expansion of the YMCA.

"It would be a win-win for the community," Seilkop said.

Seilkop is keeping details of the expansion quiet until the campaign kicks off in early 2014. The pool's total cost is $1.5 million.

With admission at $3 and the potential for increased YMCA memberships, the pool would be financially self-sustaining, Seilkop said.

Residents would not need to be members of the YMCA to use the pool. Family membership range from $36 to $72 depending on household income.

The existing Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool is like a leak in the city's budget.

Parks and Recreation Director Colby VanGundy estimated that the pool cost $57,000 to run during this year's 45-day season. During that time, admission fees and rentals brought in about $15,000.

The kiddie pool has been closed for several seasons, the pool's filtration system is on the brink of failure, and the pool is leaking 3 to 5 inches of water daily. City officials do not want to spend money for repairs on a pool that needs to be replaced.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett said the city "is on borrowed time" with the current pool.

"We're amazed that it didn't fail this summer," she said. "It's becoming more and more difficult to keep that pool up and running."

The parks commission is backing a $6 million pool concept that came from the Kimley-Horn aquatics study done earlier this year.

Ashley Walyuchow, chairman of the parks commission, said their recommendation for the most costly facility was based on appealing to a cross-section of the community.

"It had a broader appeal to more users," he said.

While that 18,000-square-foot design, the most expensive of the three options, still had a pool aspect, it had specific areas for younger and older children, he said.

"It was more family-friendly than just a swimming pool," he said.

More than finances, the decision between the two options could come down to amenities and scheduling.

Seilkop said the YMCA's proposal would "enhance the quality of life in the community" by appealing to a wide range of ages with programming and activities.

The plan includes an Americans with Disabilities Act accessible entry with spray features, a three-lane lap pool, four straight tube slides and areas for water aerobics, aqua-Zumba and swim lessons.

While it would not have a winding tube slide, similar to what is found at water theme parks, Seilkop said the four slides provide more bang for the buck.

He said children like slides, no matter what kind.

"It's as economical as I could do but still fun," he said.

Under the YMCA, the pool would stay open year-round, as opposed to the city's 45-day season.

For $6 million, the public pool could have a lazy river, winding tube slides, rock climbing, spray features and more.

"If you're talking quality-of-life aspects and investments into that, (the cost) seems fairly reasonable," the parks commission chairman, Walyuchow, said.

Even if the city agreed to more funding, Seilkop said he is not sure whether the YMCA has the same or the long-term maintenance budget to support a larger pool project.

Vice Chairman Matt Wickham said he did not support the $6 million pool concept or the other two concepts because of their price tags.

The City Council has not agreed on how much to set aside for a new pool facility.

"We should provide the nicest pool we can afford to provide," Wickham said. "If we can come up with the money to fund a pool with a lot of bells and whistles, I'm all for it."

He would not comment whether he was in favor of the potential partnership.

"Ultimately, we're going to have to provide the pool we can afford to provide," Wickham said.

City Council members appear to be leaning toward the partnership.

Mayor Paul Polasek and several council members said they supported the proposal.

"We need to cross our fingers that the current pool doesn't break one more year, and you guys can get started," Polasek said during the Dec. 17 City Council meeting. "We'll have to formalize that agreement."



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