It’s time for the St. Joseph City Council to cut its losses and either drastically scale back or put the kibosh on the overblown proposal for an outdoor aquatics center.
The untenable economic facts should speak for themselves:
- The facility would cost $6.1 million, according to estimates.
- It would cost about $250,000 annually to operate.
- A private fundraising drive is expected to raise $1.2 million to help pay for the center, and so far only $20,000 has been raised. That leaves $1.18 million left to go.
- A water-facility study costs the ludicrously inflated amount of $70,000.
- There is talk of charging $6 per person for admission to the center, unfair to economically-strapped families with underprivileged kids.
It is still baffling how St. Joseph so quickly lost its focus on a community center to this runaway, bloated dream of an aquatics center. At first, there was talk of a splash pad. Fine. But that reasonable wish quickly blossomed into a Disneyesque fantasy of a lap pool, a zero-depth entry pool, a lazy river and other watery features.
Meantime, the city agreed to create a community center in the Colts’ Academy building (the old Kennedy Elementary School). That repurposing project is likely to cost far more than anyone thinks at this point. And, meantime, something has to be done to accommodate city workers and city police in quarters that are now so squeezingly cramped as to be nonfunctional. And furthermore, also in the meantime are other projects that need city funds and resources: trails, parks, infrastructure, maintenance and repair costs.
What were (are) these water-facility planners thinking? Is this a case of special interests pushing a plan to grandiose degrees? Have too many people, including council members, been bamboozled by this unaffordable dream?
There are so many old sayings applicable to this water-park plan (or is it scheme?):
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
If you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all.
Don’t put the cart before the horse.
Live within your means.
First things first.
The City of St. Joseph should concentrate solely on two needs: 1.) constructing excellent community-center facilities at the Colts’ Academy building and lot. 2.) figuring out a plan to expand the city staff and police department functions.
Any other regional sales-tax funds current and future, other than for those two purposes, should be sacrosanct for now – saved for a rainy day or until such time as a water-amenities plan is scaled back drastically to a do-able, affordable alternative, such as a splash-pad with kiddie wading pool, free for all children.