The City of Pharr is preparing to build an aquatic center to keep up with the growing community.

Pharr’s previous 50-year-old, municipal Olympic-size pool was once one of the largest in the Rio Grande Valley, but over the last few years it began to require a lot of repair work.

“We had been spending $80,000 to $100,000 every year just to fix it,” said Aquatic Supervisor Carlos Bracamontes. “So we decided to spend money to save money on the long run.”

The estimated cost of the facility is $4 million to $5 million and was concluded necessary by a Swimming Pool Feasibly Study, conducted by consulting firm Aquatic Excellence and the Parks and Recreation advisory board and staff.

“We assessed the community demographics, growth patterns, existing swimming pool and studied what would be more feasible; repairs or new construction,” said Parks and Recreation Supervisor Francisco Marin. “It was determined that a city this size needed a new pool.”

According to Bracamontes, Pharr’s Texas Athletic Amateur Federation organization and Gus and Goldie Learn to Swim Program are growing as well, with around 1,000 kids in 2008. Although the previous pool met the needs for basic swimming classes, advanced courses like deep water rescuing required a deeper pool.

“Lifeguarding and CPR courses could not be held; once we would hit level three that was it,” said Bracamontes. “Other cities could do levels five or six; we had to hold our courses at other pools like the Summit (Sports Club).”

The Parks and Recreation department will now be able to offer these courses, as well as competitive swimming for youth in a 25-meter by 25-yard heated competition pool with a depth of 4 to11 feet and two diving boards of one meter and half meter. Therapeutic aqua aerobic lessons for senior citizens will be held in a meandering lazy river and a leisure pool with a depth of zero to three and a half feet, which will greet park visitors with geysers and dunking buckets.

The aquatic center will also consist of a children’s pool, a 150-foot body waterslide, a 200-foot inner-tube waterslide, a new bathhouse and a snack bar all in an area of about two acres; with 20 part-time lifeguards on staff.

“The neat part of our project is that it will be able to satisfy recreational needs,” said Marin, who referred to the aquatic center as a smaller concept of Schlitterbahn Beach Water Park. “Kids from the area will be able to go to a water park more affordable and closer to home.”

Imelda Salinas, Pharr resident, who typically takes her children to the Edinburg Municipal water Park, said she is most looking forward to renting it out for birthday parties.

Jose Rodriguez, Pharr resident, hopes the project will entertain youth and keep them off drugs and gangs.

As of yet, construction is not scheduled to begin. According to Marin, the city is discussing the possibility of partnering up with the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District to extend the facility’s usage to the high schools who may be interested in forming swim teams, as well as to assist with the funding of the project.

“As soon as we get the funding, we will determine when it will be built,” said Marin.

Originally the aquatic center was to be built in the previous pool’s location within the Victor Garcia Municipal Park, but with the possibility of the school district’s involvement, the location may change to a new park that will be located between Liberty Middle School and Pharr Elementary, the center of North and South Pharr.