New pool? Water park? City wants to know what you want

Feb. 7, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 7, 2013 at 8:08 p.m.

A pool was just a pool 40 or 50 years ago.

Nowadays, most modern facilities include slides, thrill rides, theme areas, wave generators and lazy rivers.

Residents, park commissioners and elected officials hashed out their dreams of Victoria's aquatics facilities during a public meeting Thursday at the community center.

Paul Gutierrez, 34, of Victoria, came to speak in support of a full-fledged water park.

"Sheridan has one, and there's nothing out there," Gutierrez said. "We have hotels and things to do. We're at a point where it's not an unheard-of thing."

Although representatives from the two consulting firms handling the city's study said the market may not be large enough, it will be included in the final analysis examining what Victoria can sustain.

"The goal for our study is to come back with information, so the city can make a knowledgeable decision," said Kevin Post, of Counsilman-Sunsaker, a St. Louis based aquatic planning and design firm.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Cochran said the meeting is strictly for planning purposes.

"We want to see what our community can sustain," Cochran said. Location is not playing a role in any of the decisions or discussions.

Diminishing conditions at the city's 33-year-old municipal pool is driving the study.

Post said the average life of an outdoor pool is 30 years. Because of corroding pipes and weak joints, Victoria's pool leaks an average of 3 to 5 inches of water daily.

"We're at the end of its useful life, and you'll need to make a decision about it," Post said about the current pool.

When considering dollar per hour, family aquatics facilities have the best value, he said.

Mark Hatchel, of the Dallas-based engineering firm Kimley-Horn, cited several trends in city-owned facilities ranging from $250,000 to $20 million. He highlighted several city-owned aquatic centers in Texas that include some water park amenities.

Baytown opened a $2.4 million family aquatic center in 2010. Brownwood spent the same for a facility in 2010. Temple officials put together $4 million in economic development funding, grants, bonds and donations to build their park.

"With the growth (Victoria is) seeing, you're probably seeing more younger families moving to town," Hatchel said. "All these things are quality-of-life issues that attract people to your community and make them want to live here."

Viola Saenz, a parks commissioner, said she is eager about the possibilities of modern water recreation in Victoria.

"We need something like this," she said.

Of all the features and amenities, she said she would like to see a lazy river and play area for children, as well as a 3-foot pool.

After the meeting, Gutierrez said it seemed the city "definitely got the ball rolling."

"You hear a lot of talk," Gutierrez said. "I care about this place. I want to see the city succeed and be a part of it."



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