Splash pad or swim pool?

SAN BENITO — For about 10 years, residents have called for a new swimming pool.

More recently, officials have discussed options such as building a splash pad.

Now, city commissioners are considering whether they want to replace the old Olympic-size pool closed about eight years ago, or build a splash pad.

The city might fund the proposed project with money from AEP’s $1.6 million purchase of land on which it is building a regional service center at the site of the old airport.

As he works on a proposed $12.6 million general fund budget, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa presented commissioners with some of these options.

Last week, parks Supervisor Sal Mendoza unveiled a proposal to set aside $205,740 to build a 1,800-square-foot pool with a capacity for 75 people.

He said the pool’s maintenance and operation would add $100,247 to its annual costs.

Meanwhile, the cost of a 2,000-square-foot splash pad could range from $150,000 to $250,000, based on the costs of splash pads built in Weslaco and Alamo, according to Mendoza’s PowerPoint presentation.

But the city could partner with the San Benito Boys and Girls Club to operate the pool, City Commissioner Rene Villafranco said in the budget workshop.

“The pool has to happen,” Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said.

But Rodriguez added the city has put its focus on funding projects such as street repairs.

“Infrastructure has to be the priority,” he said.

Villafranco said a pool would serve more residents.

“I’d hate to build a splash pad and just serve 4- and 5-year-olds,” he said.

A project to build a pool would be a “viable” option if the city could partner with the San Benito school district, De La Rosa said.

“I don’t want to run a pool,” De La Rosa said. “I’d rather have the school district run the pool.”

For years, school district officials have considered building a pool to field a swim team.

In 2013, they estimated the project could cost about $2.5 million.

About seven years ago, the district paid about $120,000 for about three acres next to San Benito High School to prepare a site for a pool with locker rooms.

Mendoza said other sites could include the new South Park off South Sam Houston Boulevard and Stookey Park, where it would cost about $300,000 to tear out the old pool.

In 2009, plumbing problems and a cracked floor led the city to close the old pool.

A year earlier, the city paid $132,250 to resurface the pool’s floor but the project failed to fix its cracked shell.

Swimming Pool or Splash Pad

Swimming pool

* Cost $205,740, plus maintenance and operation $100,247

* 1,800 square feet

* Capacity 75

Splash pad

* Cost $150,000 to $250,000, based on Weslaco and Alamo projects

* 2,000 square feet

* Life span 15 years