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Our Opinion: This idea not all wet

March 19, 2002

Although there has been seemingly endless talk in Calexico in recent months regarding various ambitious projects, the one we like best may be among the least ambitious — an aquatics center for the city.

Calexico has grown beyond the one public pool that serves the city — the pool at Calexico High. While that pool gets plenty of public use during our warm months, thanks to city recreation programs, and has served the city well for years and years, it is simply too small to serve a city growing as fast as Calexico.

And let's not forget Calexico, like the rest of the Imperial Valley, gets terribly hot in the summer, and many people in Calexico can't afford to pay for their air conditioning to run all day, let alone have a swimming pool in their back yards.

Pools also keep kids cool and off the streets, and swimming often exhausts the mischief out of young.

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So a good public place for cooling off is essential in Calexico. That's why we like the idea of Calexico building an aquatics center. A few years ago a consultant reported that a water park was not feasible in Calexico. We were convinced that was a flawed study, as were others, but it seemed to dissuade city officials and other interested parties in going forward on such a project.

The new project, for an aquatics center, would have some elements of the water parks that have become popular throughout Southern California, such as water slides and two pools, but would fall short of being a true water park, we are told. Whatever. We still like the idea. Such a park would draw young people and families from Calexico, El Centro, Imperial, maybe as far north as Brawley, and certainly would attract from over the border in Mexicali. The city could quickly start making back its investment by charging reasonable admission prices.

The initial investment in the project is a $50,000 to have a financing mechanism drawn up by a consultant to be voted on by the City Council tonight. The total cost would be $6 million and would involve a couple methods of financing.

We think it is worth the $50,000 investment to see if this can be pulled off by the city. And if it looks feasible, we would like to see the aquatics center built somewhere where it can be easily accessed by the city's young people (we are not wild about the idea of putting it way out in the extreme north end of town in a new development.)

This is a quality-of-life investment that could mean a great difference to Calexico and its young people. It is worth exploring.

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