Calexico RDA board rejects aquatic center

June 12, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The majority opinion was clear — four City Council members wouldn't support building a multimillion-dollar aquatic center right now.

Some councilmen, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, said there are more pressing priorities for the RDA, such as providing a new health- care facility.

Other board members weren't convinced the city would be able to pay for an aquatic center that featured water park elements for kids and a warm water pool for senior citizens.


The lone member who supported such a center, Mayor John Renison, might have been disappointed with the decision of his colleagues but said, "Retreats are fine. We can talk about this in two years. I know we will. That's fine."

After a half-hour of discussion, the RDA board took no action on building an aquatic center and quickly moved to other items on Tuesday's agenda.

At the start of the discussion, Renison explained why he thought the city should try to build a center.

"Calexico is really overdue. The city is dying and breathing for a water park," he said.

As for how the RDA board could fund such a project, Renison said he had been told by a bond counsel the city could issue $5 million in bonds.

While he noted that number was unofficial, he thought it was firm enough to warrant further study. Renison said he put the item on Tuesday's agenda to see if the RDA board wanted to move forward and look into building a center.

"Calexico really deserves something like this," he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Frank Montoya said he wouldn't support building an aquatic center until he saw detailed financial reports that proved the city's general fund wouldn't be drained.

Councilman Alex Perrone said, "It's a good project but a project the city cannot fund at this time."

He said an aquatic park in Barstow funded with public dollars was closed for lack of use. Perrone thinks the city could bring in the private sector to help build an aquatic center.

As for what the RDA board should be focused on, Perrone said, "There are more priorities than the water park. We need to be prudent and keep the funds available for other projects."

Councilman Victor Carrillo, one of the supporters of the aquatic park when it was brought before the council earlier this year, said, "The project is an excellent one," but, he added, the council should discuss its priorities at an upcoming workshop to see if the project fits into the short-term or long-term goals of the council.

Councilman David Ouzan said he thought the project was being pushed on the council by financiers who wanted to issue the bonds for the city.

While he acknowledged the need for a pool to help cool local residents, he said, "Before we get excited about that we must consider some major elements."

He said the city had to figure out how to fund such a project and whether it was really needed.

Regarding the need, he said, "I do not think this is an urgent matter."

Ouzan said the city should look into providing a health-care facility and maybe partnering with the school district to build a pool.

Renison addressed the comments of the councilmen who said the city should build a health-care facility.

"We've tried using city funds before and it hasn't worked. Nobody has a handle on health care yet. You're going to get stopped every day, if you don't already. You're going to get stopped by people asking for more recreational facilities," he said.

Perrone said the city could build a nice pool on the west side of town or near Kennedy Gardens for far less than it would cost to build an "aquatic center."

In other business during the RDA meeting, Ouzan addressed City Attorney Michael Rood.

"I apologize to Mr. Rood if there was any rude comment. I hope Mr. Rood would reconsider his resignation. He's a good lawyer and he should stick with us," Ouzan said.

Rood gave the council notice last week that he would resign July 6.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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