San Benito town hall to give residents chance to talk

SAN BENITO — Residents are getting a chance to have their say.

Tomorrow, the city will hold a town hall meeting to give them an opportunity to raise their concerns before city commissioners.

The forum, proposed by Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez, will include discussion about options to fund a proposed aquatics center.

“It’s just to bring out the people’s concerns,” Rodriguez said yesterday.

Rodriguez noted City Commission meetings do not allow commissioners to publically address residents’ concerns.

“We never get to answer questions at City Commission meetings,” he said.

“I want to show citizens some transparency.”

During the meeting, commissioners are expected to hear “questions and concerns by citizens” and discuss “possible financing of a proposed aquatic center,” according to the meeting’s brief agenda.

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

Last month, commissioners appeared to favor a project to build a pool rather than a less costly splash pad.

In that workshop, commissioners discussed a proposal to set aside $205,740 to build a 1,800-square-foot pool with a capacity for 75 people.

Meanwhile, the proposed pool’s maintenance and operation would add $100,247 to the city’s annual costs.

Funding options included the possibility of dipping into money from AEP’s recent $1.6 million purchase of land on which it is building a regional service center at the site of the old airport.

But City Manager Manuel De La Rosa proposed a “viable” option would include partnering with the San Benito school district to build a pool.

Under that scenario, the district could fund maintenance and operation costs, De La Rosa said.

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

In 2013, they estimated that 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.

For more than eight years, residents have called for a new pool after the city closed its old Olympic-size pool.

In 2009, plumbing problems and a cracked floor led the city to shut down the pool at Stookey Park.

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

If You Go

* Town hall meeting

* Community Building, 210 E. Heywood St.

* Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Thursday; Meeting begins

at 6 p.m.

* Agenda: Options to fund proposed aquatics center.

Residents questions and concerns.