by Max Grossman

Proposition 1 on the ballot of November 6, 2012 ballot authorized the issuance of $245,000,000 in general obligation bonds for “park, recreation, open space and zoo improvements, including soccer/sports fields, aquatic centers, and new and improved recreation, senior and community centers.”

Magically, this led the City to construct four major water parks, whose management was awarded to ASM Global, operating as Destination El Paso.

The four water parks opened for business between May 29 and June 30, 2021 for the first summer season, closing on September 26.

Brace yourself for impact…

According to the City’s Internal Audit Office, which released a report titled “Water Parks Financial Review Audit No. A2022-05,” during the 120 days from the opening of the first waterpark to the closing of all four for the season, the water parks lost $1,335,420, not including utilities!

Not only is the cost of the water, electricity and gas not included in the expenditures of the report. The cost of operating the facilities during the eight-month off-season are not included either!

In addition, the report projects an operating loss of $3,394,546 for the 2022 season, which ended yesterday. Presumably we will not know the extent of that loss until well into 2023 when the next report is released.

We are talking about financial hemorrhaging on a huge scale, potentially worse than the Ballpark and Trolley combined, when one adds the cost of utilities and off-season maintenance.

Alone among our media, Fallon Fischer of KFOX 14 reported the projected 2022 loss in a brief report last December that included an interview with Brian Crowe, who muttered: “We do feel that with some of the programs we’re putting in place that we will exceed the budgeted revenue.”

Does anyone wonder why the City just raised our property tax?


  1. The highest paid city manager, in the state of Texas, is responsible for this tax money sink hole.

  2. Those water parks were not customer service oriented. Overpriced and non welcoming. They should study Wet and Wild and take some cues from them.

    1. Very true! They’ve been mismanaged from get go! Someone’s pockets got lined at our expense! Government hand outs to favorites happens again. So sad.

  3. The entire 2012 bond issues were a massive scam pulled on the taxpayers of this city. Voters thought they were voting for things that never came to be, and instead got a bunch of shit they didn’t expect, ask for, or need! Let’s go back to a Strong Mayor form of government, but no more Margos or Leesors, please.

  4. It’s time to cut out loses and fire Tommy once and for all and go back to letting an elected Mayor run the city government. Million dollar severance be damned. We need someone who answers directly to the voters and who must produce value while also lowering the burden on the tax payer or else they are voted out. I’m tired of Tommy only having to answer to the corrupt city council.

  5. I continue to be amazed at how Tommy Gonzalez has been able to “sell” City Council on his vision. I do recall the tentative price of the food and doubted then, and stated here, that $8.00 for ONE hot dog was going to dissuade alot of folks. Especially as 23.3% of the city lives beneath the Poverty Level. And, astounding that they don’t have the utilities on top of this money losing “vision” that Gonzalez envisioned. He is a Very Poor Businessman, other than squeezing vendors in Dallas in his prior gig. I can only imagine the cost of just the water alone. Gas & Electricity are going to be minimal compared to the Water Bill. 4 Water Parks in the middle of the Desert? Splashing and evaporation. Water is a Precious Commodity that we cannot take for granted. Just look at Lake Meade, Lake Powell and the Great Salt Lake. A stretch of the Rio Grande along Albq. dried to a trickle this summer, the first time in 40 years. Another stretch further dried up as well. This brings me to Great Wolf, which I will comment on soon. Is it wise to invest in water hogging entertainment in the middle of the desert? There are attorneys who are paid big bucks to protect water rights. BIG Bucks. Water rights in New Mexico are jealously guarded. Look at how much cash is generated just in Hatch and Mesilla Valley–the farmers need water for chile, pecans and cotton. Not to mention all of the pecan trees planted all the way down to Tornillo. Right now ELP gets 40% of its water from the Rio Grande, 38% from Hueco Wells/Bolson and 17% from Mesilla. Only 5% is gotten through desalination. When water dies down to a trickle because El Paso water parks are water hoggers, guess who these farmers/corporations are going to sue? And guess who is going to pay for the damages due to loss of crops? Yes, the citizens of El Paso.

    1. Agriculture uses about 75% of water here and the city is a miser by comparison. Water-intensive crops, too, like pecans, cotton and alfalfa. It takes 600 to 900 gallons of water to make one pound of pecans and, if being in the desert concerns you, they are still planting new orchards here. Switching production to more annuals like vegetables would be a better strategy long term especially if sold locally, contributing to food security. But those pecan orchards are big investments and cannot be fallowed in a bad water year like now, unlike annuals can be.

      My science colleagues in the Permanent Forum on Binational Waters are calling this a 1200 year drought based on paleoclimate data such as lake sediments and tree ring analysis.

  6. It’s going to be very difficult to terminate T. Gonzalez! For sure! But the Mayor, he will go if the voters decide, much easier! How are the Chihuahuas doing financially? Can anyone tell me?

  7. legal corruption, or major incompetence, but that’s politics at tax payers expenses.

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