By Pete Banda
It was at a town hall meeting a few weeks back when Commissioners first announced their desire to bring a state-of-the-art aquatic center to San Benito. At the time, the project was expected to cost over $11 million to complete and nearly $130,000 a year to maintain. While many in the audience that day voiced their pleasure at such a project being sought after in San Benito, others, including Mayor Ben Gomez, expressed skepticism – citing the need for better streets and other downtown priorities. After taking the citizens point of view into consideration, commissioners ultimately voted down the project at a regular commission meeting this pat Tuesday.
A developer from McAllen, who was present at the town hall meeting, had previously stated revenue from competitions and festivals would help offset the projected cost of construction and make the project a guaranteed profit. At least one Commissioner shared her concerns with this statement.
“It was hard for me to vote against the memo because this was a goal of mine. However, decisions need to be made for our city with proper research and an understanding of the burden that will be put on our citizens,” said Sanchez in a statement on Facebook. “I cannot agree to move forward on a project that would make us liable for $11 million dollars plus interest, hundreds of thousands in maintenance fees, management fees, utilities, employee salaries, engineer salaries, repairs, oh i can go on and on – especially, basing it on numbers and profits that would rely on making money off festivals and competitions modeled from the Dallas and San Antonio area.
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