The Alice Echo News Journal recently held a poll on social media asking the community their opinion on reopening the Multi-Use Complex, also known as the Natatorium.
The topic has been an on-going heated issue for a few years. A total of 2,400 people took the AENJ poll on Facebook with 1,800 voting to re-open and 558 to keep the pool closed.
The $22 million complex closed in December 2019 due to the costly maintenance to operate the facility
"We as a city simply could not afford to keep it open," said Alice City Councilman Pete Crisp.
Alice City Manager Micheal Esparza has been given the task to find an innovative way to make this newly built state-of-art facility somehow work for the city and the community. Esparza reached out to the Alice Independent School District (AISD) in October 2019 and the two entities could not come to an agreement.
"I accepted the challenge of the Natatorium when I took this position so I went to an agency that specializes in pool operations," Esparza said.
Esparza reached out to the YMCA of the Coastal Bend to start the conversation on their interest to operate and manage the complex. Esparza reached out last summer but the YMCA was going through a leadership change that slowed down the business negotiations.
Last week, city leaders meet with the new CEO William "Bud" Oliver of the YMCA and continued the conversation on negotiating a plan for the YMCA to come to Alice to operate the facility.
City Councilman Pete Crisp attended the meeting with the YMCA.
"A contract has not been executed, but I feel it was a positive meeting. The public has a misconception that city council leaders want the pool closed and that's not the case," Crisp said. "We needed a plan that made sense and I hope the YMCA negotiates a contract with the city -it will be a huge benefit for our community as a whole."