On July 29, Jourdanton City Manager Lamar Schulz addressed an audience of about 20, at the town hall meeting to discuss the construction of a swimming pool and splash pad. Four residents spoke at the meeting, which lasted a little over half an hour: Denise Williams, Alvin Bailey, Katrina Wiatrek and Jeff Rankin. Council members in the audience were Johnetta Goetzel, Karen Pesek, Jack R. Harrison, Chester Gonzales and Mayor Robert “Doc” Williams.
Schulz began the meeting explaining, “The location is not something that is going to change. Anybody that is interested in it being at the park, that is not going to be the case. We already have the pool set up here.”
Although a new pool is being built, it makes sense to have the splash pad and pool adjacent to each other, for the purpose of manpower, chemicals, etc. Schulz continued.
Denise Williams speaks
Denise Williams heard about the splash pad, and wanted to see if it could be separated from the pool because there are more children in that direction.
“It will be in what is grass right now,” said Schulz.
Williams asked about whether it would be Olympic-sized, stating that it would generate more revenue. Schulz responded that the one they looked at was junior Olympic-size and could be used to host events or by the school. Schulz said this is a recreation pool vs. a competitive swim type pool.
“As we try to work to develop the park more, we would definitely want to try to get a Parks and Wildlife grant,” said Schulz. “In order to do that, there is some paperwork that hasn’t been done here for a number of years- since 1991. We’ve got to bring it up to date, because I’ll guarantee you, they’ve loaned us money once before based on us getting that report done. Then the report got put into a vault and didn’t see the light of day until not long ago.”
Additional play equipment could be a possibility and in the future as they move in that direction, they will be looking for more input from the public, noted Schulz.
Alvin Bailey speaks
Alvin Bailey spoke next and asked Schulz to review how the pool situation came to be.
Schulz answered, “Bad construction. People who didn’t follow the actual plans. They did not put enough reinforcement.”
Schulz added that it wasn’t always the main company, but also subcontractors.
Bailey asked why the location moved from the city park to the Sports Complex, especially since the park has a walking path, bleachers, volleyball nets and trees.
Schulz answered, “That I couldn’t tell you. I wasn’t here during that time.”
Bailey asked if a new builder was selected, to which Schulz responded not yet. He also asked how Schulz planned on vetting the new company.
Schulz said they will go through the resources of who they worked for in the past and talk to them.
“More importantly, once they even get started on the job they will be under a lot more scrutiny than I think the last one was,” said Schulz.
Bailey also asked if there are any local companies capable of participating in the construction of the new pool. Schulz said it depends on who submits bids, and mentioned that they have to be a commercial pool builder.
Bailey said, regarding Olympic-sized pools, that his daughter swam in many outdoor pools, through the Alamo Area Aquatics Association all over the state.
“I just think an Olympic sized pool would be a revenue generating facility. I can’t address council, so,” Bailey said.
Katrina Wiatrek speaks
The next to speak was Katrina Wiatrek, stating she had a lot of questions about why things were done they way they were done.
“I figured that since it came back around, that it was time for me to be here and that way when people do ask questions, and I do see things happen, I can either agree or not agree, but not be in a wishy-washy area. I know one of the big issues was where we chose to put the hole in the ground is obviously not compatible with our community. Most people that I speak to, most people would agree,” Wiatrek said.
She felt that she represented moms in the area with young children- the city’s biggest customer.
“If we’re not happy going there, then it’s going to fail. You’ve got this clientele and yet I feel like we weren’t asked. I don’t know, maybe I just wasn’t asked?”
Wiatrek expressed that Pleasanton and Charlotte’s splash pads featured bright colors and were geared towards young, pre-school kids so that market has been taken.
“What we don’t have is a nice event area that can be multi-purpose. So I felt like if we were kind of at the starting point again then before we talk about a splash pad, maybe we really should consider thinking about our city park. They are not super expensive to put in. They don’t have a whole lot of maintenance. We can turn it into something more like The Pearl, or Hemisphere Park downtown where they have a splash pad. It’s concrete. It has beautiful lighting, but it’s also used with like… for an event, they can put a band over in the corner. They can put tables on top in the winter time, when a splash pad is null and void because it’s too cold,” Wiatrek said.
She went on to describe a multi-purpose area with synthetic turf.
“If we could make it over there where we have a beautiful pavilion, beautiful fenced-off area, volleyball, basketball. We have it all right there. I really think that this community could have a gathering place.”
Wiatrek said the town could use a place where kids would have a swim team during the summer.
“In fact, I ran a swim team in San Antonio when I was younger and in all of this sports world. They did travel all over, it’s about six weeks, but it’s so good for the kids. It’s cardio and low impact for our athletes. We don’t have anything like that. And then it would be easier to have swim lessons and things of that nature, which is great for kids, but it is also a life skill. When we don’t have a good swimming program here in this town, it does a disservice to this generation after generation, because these kids can’t swim.”
Wiatrek continued that when the pool was at the city park, it was in a neighborhood where many children could ride their bikes. They could ride a scooter, get to the pool and swim every single day. Now the pool will be off the highway, with no sidewalks to get there.
“Once they get there, it is like an oven. There are no trees. There is not enough shade. It’s a mess. I guess my only plea would be, before we even take these bids and we get all of this, if we can have a group of people that are going to be using it, that have been to 25 different other pools with our children. We could go, ‘Hey, this was a good idea. Hey, these bathrooms are horrible. Hey, let’s talk about parking. Let’s think about shade.’ That kind of stuff. I really feel we have the opportunity to, I don’t want to say, one up all the other towns around us, but we were given a new start,” Wiatrek shared.
The splash pad doesn’t have to be one that is only good for pre-school children. It could be one that serves everybody, said Wiatrek.
“And I’m cheering for us because I think Jourdanton is great,” she added.
Jeff Rankin speaks
Jeff Rankin asked if there were some plans available to look at, any drawings or renditions of what the city wants. Schulz responded not yet.
Schulz said they did have a video of what the splash pad looks like.
“I know we can’t address council, but shouldn’t the citizens be able to vote on the location?” asked Bailey.
“You learn in government, not everybody votes on every item,” said Schulz.
“But not having the opportunity…,” said Bailey.
Schulz added like he said previously, that decision was made some time ago.
Wiatrek questions design
When the short video was shown Wiatrek asked, “This is the one we’re going to copy? See, this is just a pre-school one…. This is what everybody else has. This isn’t multipurpose. We can’t use it for city events. It’s not like classy. Not that I’m trying to be super fancy, but it would be so much cheaper and so much more useful for so many more people, especially the young generation. We could bring our kids and let them play and chat and have a band and eat some food from a food truck. This is very much for this age group. It’s just a very slim part with a fence around it.”
She asked Schulz if he had been to The Pearl and seen their splash pad.
“You probably didn’t notice, because it’s not an eyesore. It’s just tile actually, beautiful tile, with some spouts and some uplighting for the evening when the sun is setting, the lights go up and it’s just a beautiful place. That’s what we could be. We could be a beautiful place. We don’t have to be Fiesta Texas.”
More discussion continued with Williams and Wiatrek offering suggestions on adding a simple, clean splash pad. It would also offer more to do at the annual Fourth of July event.
Rankin speaks out
Jeff Rankin said, “I think coming to a town meeting and saying it’s already determined and set doesn’t do us justice.”
He added, “Maybe we don’t like the Sports Complex. I don’t. I haven’t since day one. There’s no sign, but for emergency services, we’re going to have more children trying to cross the highway now, whether it’s a pool that is going to be open or a splash pad. There’s less traffic on Brown Street and the kids can cross it a little easier.”
Rankin suggested they go back to the city park and put some money back into it.
Williams questions point of meeting
Mrs. Williams asked what the point of the town hall meeting is if everything has been set.
Schulz said as far as it has been explained to him, this is the location that council wants it to be at. [town hall]
“There is more in the process, too. I hate to go into that because we’re talking longer range, but there are thoughts on building other things back in this area and developing it further. More things such as chili cookoffs, BBQ cook-offs and that sort of thing,” Schulz said.
He was referring to the area back behind where the stadium is at, where the ball fields are at the Sports Complex. Williams said it would benefit the neighborhood there, where the majority of the town does not live. Schulz said that you often run into that, in whatever community you put things in. It’s not always going to be where everyone wants it, and you can’t please everyone.
More discussion continued with Williams stating that there are many swimming leagues outside of school. Parents are paying money for their kids to have other opportunities in select leagues, and she believes they would be interested if given the chance.
Mrs. Harrison asked if they knew what side of 97 has more kids. Schulz said there was a lot more on that side of town, but he didn’t know the population exactly.
Wiatrek calls for a business plan
Wiatrek advised if the pool is going to be at the Sports Complex, “Let’s not cut ourselves short because we didn’t think far enough ahead that one day we might have a swim team.”
She has managed many similar programs and she feels like parents in this town with young kids want to get involved.
“I think if we listen and we make these plans and we have someone that is business-oriented review it. Let’s make a real business plan so we know for real we’re going to get the revenues that we need, best care and worst-case scenario. That would be a no-brainer, but I think a lot of times we are wasting money on things or we do things that almost… we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Wiatrek said.
If this is exactly where the pool is going, then let’s come together and make the location the best location ever and maybe it’s not a splash pad, said Wiatrek.
Bailey advises another town hall meeting
Bailey asked what the timeline was. Schulz said the goal was to have something in place as far as the pool goes, by the summer. Whether that is all summer or part of summer he said “We don’t know.”
“We haven’t sat down and gotten that portion of it yet. We’re at the very beginning stages.”
Schulz doesn’t want to risk repeating anything that happened before.
“I want to make sure that whatever gets built this go-around, stands the test,” Schulz said.
Bailey advised having another town hall meeting, when they get further into the process.
Schulz said that was possible.
Bailey suggested putting it on the November ballot.
Wiatrek suggests committee
Wiatrek suggested some sort of committee, so they could come up with a plan for the town before they let engineers decide.
“Maybe we can get together and we can show the engineer, this is what we are kind of thinking, now you tell us what you can do with that,” said Wiatrek.
She asked what the magic number is, what the amount of money is they have to work with.
Schulz said, “I’m not sure how that’s going to play out, but that is the amount of money that we recovered from the lawsuit $1,105,000.”
He said it also has to cover demolition.
Schulz advised the audience there were forms available for anyone who wanted to write out their suggestions, and that info would go to council.