By Bill Oakey – May 7, 2015
There I sat at City Hall, trying to make some sense of it all…
Last week, The City Council’s Open Space Committee was discussing Austin’s “Aquatic State.” This is not the water crisis – well, not exactly. It’s all about swimming pools.
The City has swimming pools in parks all over town that have not been properly maintained or renovated for 30 years. So the Parks Dept. staff did what all good departments do. They commissioned a study.
The Aquatic Assessment Study attempted to determine what “Aquatic State” Austin should have. That endeavor, of course, will require an Aquatic Master Plan.
But before going any further, let’s consider a few minor details:
1. It would cost $45 million to renovate the swimming pools that are in bad shape today.
2. It would cost another $28 million to fix the ones that will need it over the next five years.
3. Attendance at many of the pools has been declining. So, let’s ask the community how we can improve the facilities to make more people want to come.
But there is one unfortunate reality that is not in the Aquatic Study nor in the parameters for the Master Plan. This reality has everything to do with Austin’s “Aquatic State.”
THE TAXPAYERS ARE UNDERWATER!!!
This is not to say that swimming pools are not important. Certainly, they are. Many neighborhoods enjoy them and Austin deserves a Parks Department and City leadership that maintains the pools adequately. So, whoever is responsible for the poor management and willingness to allow it to fester this long should have their collective heads examined – after said heads are dunked in the nearest pool.
At this point in time it would probably be best to put the pool renovations into an upcoming bond package, even though we may be swimming in debt. There is no way we can afford to take a multimillion dollar direct cash hit to the City Budget.
As for the multitude of “Plans” that the City and County have in the pipeline, it is high time that all of them be pulled out of the archives and entered into a great big “Master List of Plans.” Summaries of these plans and the cumulative price tag for all of them should be posted online for the public to see. Then our elected officials need to set some priorities and determine how many of these plans we can realistically afford.
Did I imply that this blog posting was good for a laugh? Well, I hope that at least the first part of it was. As for the rest of it, you may want to seek relief and cool off in a pool that is still in good enough shape to open next month. If you can’t find one nearby, perhaps a cold shower would do the trick.