New public pool will stay open year-round

April 8, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 7, 2014 at 11:08 p.m.

Victoria swimmers are poised to dive into a new public pool come next summer.

The City Council voted last week to spend $1.56 million on a partnership with YMCA of the Golden Crescent Inc., effectively ending the city's involvement in the "pool business."

Under the YMCA's management, swimming will cost $3 a day, which is twice as much as the city's fee, but the pool will stay open year-round and offer more amenities.

Latisha Luna, 27, of Victoria, grew up going to the 1978-era public pool on North Ben Wilson Street with her brothers and cousins.

"It was a family thing," Luna said.

Now that she has her own family - 5-year-old Adalyn Samora, 1-year-old Anastasia Luna and another on the way - she is looking forward to making memories at the new pool once it opens.

"It's time we got some new stuff for the teens here," Luna said. "There's not much for them to do."

The new pool could be open by 2015, but so far, there is not a solid time frame for construction, said YMCA Director Chris Seilkop.

With a beach-style entry, spray ground, four slides, lap lanes and areas for all ages, Seilkop said it will be a positive addition to the city.

"It's a win-win," Seilkop said. "We're able to bring two entities to the table that will benefit everyone."

Until the new pool opens, city officials are hoping the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool can endure two more seasons. The kiddie pool has been closed for several seasons, the pool's filtration system is on the brink of failure, and cracks along the expansion joints caused the pool to leak 3 to 5 inches of water daily.

The partnership "is a matter of revenues," said City Manager Charmelle Garrett.

"There's not money to do a huge family water park right now, and our swimming pool is on its last leg," she said. "This was an opportunity to get a new pool without the extensive costs."

In December 2012, the city spent $47,750 on a pool study that came back with three options ranging from $2.8 million to $6 million.

Reasoning that it was an investment in the city's quality of life, the parks commission backed the most expensive concept. However, the City Council, which has the final say, wanted to spend less.

Even at the lowest option, Garrett said it wasn't likely they could put together almost $3 million for a new pool, which competes for funding with residential street projects.

Each year, the city loses about $57,000 keeping the municipal pool open during its 45-day season. In 2013, admission fees and rentals brought in about $15,000.

The city faces long-term financial savings through this partnership, Seilkop said.

With pool replacement, replacing every motor every eight years and resurfacing the pool every 12 years, the city would spend $2.7 million across 25 years operating the pool on a three-month period, Seilkop calculated.

For the YMCA, the cost is about $3 million and the facility is open year-round.

"When you look at operating the pool, finding life guards, staffing and quality of service, who does a better job than the YMCA?" Seilkop said.



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