To the editor,
Take a million dollar swimming pool project, add a self-serving group of architectural engineers, then stir in a few people who apparently care more about getting their name on a brass plaque than fiscal responsibility and what do you get? Give up? Let me answer for you: A four and a half million dollar aquatic center!
Thatís what the price tag would, and probably will, end up being if all phases of the current proposed swimming pool project are approved.
You canít really blame the architects. They like to have expensive projects approved because, in addition to the ďdesign fee,Ē they get a percentage of the construction cost for overseeing the project.
Some of the figures defy the imagination. Five hundred thousand dollars-plus for a bathhouse? You can build at least three pretty nice homes for that price. Whatís needed are two dressing rooms, two rest rooms and a small concession stand under a roof, nothing more. What logic can justify spending that much money on an opulent edifice thatís only going to be used three months a year? What about $400,000-plus for parking and landscaping? Just those two figures added together almost equal the original cost estimate for the project. Competition and diving pools? For what? Stephenville isnít a hot spot for competitive swimming and Iím sure a horde of lawyers will be anxiously awaiting the first diving mishap.
What I find particularly disturbing is the urgency to get the project under way. It has been discussed for well over a year and now that these frightening cost figures are on the table it has to be done immediately. Whatís the rush? Why canít this kind of expenditure be put before the voters? According to the Empire-Tribune, Barry Ratliff was the only councilor who even mentioned a ballot.
Iím also very curious about the costs of operating such a complicated facility. I would think staffing to meet insurance requirements would be very costly.
I have never been convinced the old pool couldnít have been repaired and renovated at a reasonable cost but somebody convinced somebody it was a lost cause and now weíre looking at spending a lot of money on what will realistically be nothing more than an expensive day care center. The old pool was overrun by the children of illegal residents and there is no reason to believe the new pool wonít be an even greater magnet. But thatís another story. What we need now is for the council to take another look and reign in the spendthrift mentality that is dominating the project.