Saturday, October 5, 2013

ZAP! #139: Backstroke Blues

ZAP! #139

     Recently, the city council heard a presentation regarding the ‘possible’ development of a community recreational center on five acres of land that the city owns.  The property is located at Wingren and the access road of HWY 183.

     Total cost of the proposed facility would be $12-13 million.  It was at this point in the presentation that Chris Hooper, a city director, related that cost for this project would be a “partnership” between the city, Irving ISD and the YMCA.  (This is when the antenna of the CCRs staff immediately became rigid.)  The shared cost would be on the order of: City = $7 million; IISD = $5 million; and the YMCA would be responsible for the annual operational and staffing cost.  The city would retain title to the property.

     One of the primary rationales for the development of the center, as stated in the presentation, would be to have a more accessible pool for the IISD high school swim teams to utilize for practice purposes.  Sounds reasonable.  But wait!  Isn’t this what the North Lake Natatorium is supposed to accomplish for the IISD?  (However, the natatorium isn’t a shinny, new pool.)

     While one could argue that it is always good to find a partner to jump between the sheets with to share and cut cost, does a closer examination of the “partnership” currently in existence between the city, North Lake College and the IISD for use of the natatorium demonstrate that the sheets may have been ripped several years ago?  If the “partnership” was truly working, then why would the IISD really need to commit $5 million to have a swimming hole for their teams?

     Considering the share of bucks the IISD would have to bring to the table, $5 million divided by about nearly 95 swim team members equals about $52,632/swimmer.  Wouldn’t it be less expensive to just give each swimmer a pool membership to the Las Colinas CC for practice purposes?  (Of course, no bar tabs allowed.)

     As an aside, would this project even be discussed if the ‘old’ city manager was still goose stepping around the city.  (In all actuality, this was probably a project that Gonzalez and Bedden cooked up, and we now know where they and their high salaries are.)  Also, it seems that the ‘old’ city manager had a propensity to bulldoze swimming facilities, in the dark of night, to make way for his ‘water parks’...much to the chagrin of all the tax payers and users in the neighborhoods that were effected by his rash dictates.

     Before any tax/grant bucks are committed by the entities for this project, maybe rationale thinking should be initiated to revamp or hash out problems with the natatorium “partnership” that would work to the benefit of the IISD otters swimmers.  Or maybe, look to the Metropolitan YMCA to build and run the facility, if the need is actually there, with other parties ‘buying‘ time as they now do with the natatorium.  

     After all, this was the stated purpose for the involvement of each entity in the original “partnership” have a pool available for the IISD swim team.  Isn’t a revamping of schedule issues considerably cheaper than the construction of a $12-13 million facility?

     But then, bureaucrats don’t spend their money...they spend yours!

…………………….Mark Holbrook