City, schools eye building aquatic center

SAN BENITO — What is the one thing the city and school district have wanted to build for years?

Why, it’s an aquatic center, of course.

A real aquatic center, complete with deep blue pools and diving boards.

Plans for a future aquatic center might be the next big project the city and school district undertake together.

During Wednesday’s joint meeting of the City Commission and the school board, officials discussed the possibility of building a center.

A center of this kind has been mentioned by Superintendent Dr. Adrian Vega and Mayor Celeste Sanchez, but never discussed any further.

Until now.

Both parties agreed to conduct a feasibility study with hopes that in the next few years the city and school district could have its very own aquatic center.

“Everyone has been asking for this,” Sanchez said. “When I was working for the district, we had discussed starting an aquatic center.”

However, planning did not happen and a facility was never built.

As of right now, people in the community are using pools in the neighboring communities of Harlingen, Brownsville and Los Fresnos.

It’s unknown what exactly the city and school district have in mind.

If it’s anything like the $7.8 million Harlingen CISD Aquatic Center and the $6 million Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center in Brownsville, the city and district could be looking at spending millions.

Aquatic centers, like the recently built center in Harlingen, are known for featuring lap pools, competition pools, diving pools and therapeutic pools.

Most are filled with natural daylight.

When San Benito officials located the current stadium, they built it with an aquatic center in mind. Naturally, the center would be built there for easy access by students.

If built, the aquatic center would not only house pools but also classrooms, where students can obtain certification in CPR and take lifeguarding classes.

“Our kids need to know how to swim,” Sanchez said.

Building will not start tomorrow, but Sanchez said if money could be put away, a facility could be built in the next few years.

The feasibility study or assessment of the practicality of the proposed project would go into detail about size and cost of the facility.

When writing a feasibility report, several factors have to be considered, including cost, benefits, economic impacts, legalities, operations and a schedule of the project.

“We don’t want to be in the business of running an aquatics center but we do want to help the school district build one and be useful to students during the day and open to the public on the weekends,” Sanchez said.