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Residents continue to fight for Alice Natatorium

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jan 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-21 23:36:46-05

Alice residents upset by the natatorium's closing hoped the facility would be discussed at Tuesday's Alice City Council meeting, but it failed to make the agenda.

A group of concerned citizens said it recently submitted a petition with 1200 signatures to get the natatorium discussion back on the agenda.

“The public deserves the right to know what numbers you looked at to arrive at the situation,” said Yolanda Moran, a resident in favor of keeping the natatorium open, during Tuesday's meeting.

The Alice mayor and city council agreed to drain and close the natatorium -- which opened in June 2016 -- in December 2019. City leaders cited the amount of money it cost to run the natatorium versus the revenue it was bringing in, deciding it just didn’t make fiscal sense to keep the facility open.

“As of now (we have) drained the natatorium part," said Alice Mayor Jolene Vanover. "However the waterpark will remain open.”

The city has said the cost to run the natatorium was placing a financial burden on the city. Vanover said it was clear, after just more than three years, the pool portion of the natatorium was costing too much.

“Affected chemicals, heating -- the bulk of the cost comes from the natatorium part," she said. "The revenue that comes in just doesn’t quite balance right now.”

She said she hopes to address residents' concerns in the near future, and has a number of meetings set up to address residents' concerns.

But for now, the pool is closed to the public.

Which isn't only affecting the city. Alice ISD now also is faced with finding another pool to accommodate its swim team, which also is upsetting residents.

Alice ISD and the city did try to hammer out a deal late last year. The school district was willing to pay just under $60,000 for use of the natatorium, which would have kept the facility open to the public. But the city countered, wanting upwards of $100,000. The district wasn’t able to counter in the time frame given, which also has upset residents.

“I am respectfully asking for the natatorium to be put on the next agenda," said resident Belinda Silva on Tuesday night. "We have clearly proven in a very short amount of time there are citizens that are interested in making the state-of-the-art facility full.”

Vanover said she’s not against discussing the natatorium's viability, but said, ultimately, she’s responsible for the city's success and the proper use of taxpayer dollars.

“Just because the pool is drained does it mean we can’t put water back,“ she said.