Will Water Parks Be The New Streetcars? And Other Questions

In March, KFOX14 reported that the streetcars are a money pit.

KFOX14 Investigates learned in the first four months of operation the streetcar took in about $19,000 in revenue. The cost to operate the streetcar? A little more than $900,000.

The City is building five water parks.

That much we know. The rest of the details are a little hazy.

Here’s City Manager Tommy Gonzalez in a hard-hitting interview with fan boy Robert Gray in this week’s El Paso Inc.:

Q: But did the scope of some of the projects grow? I don’t remember city water parks in the original quality of life bond. That’s a very good question. You have to look at the existing aquatics facilities the city has and the numbers of people attending those facilities and what is happening across America and Texas. In the mid 2000s, we started doing that in another city I worked in, and you had the Dallases and Fort Worths of the world closing all of their pools. In Irving, we closed three pools that had about 9,000 attendees for the summer. Then we built one regional water facility that had something for everyone. Attendance surged to more than 100,000.

Well, that’s pretty definitive, wouldn’t you say? Would you? What, exactly, was it that Mr. Gonzalez said there? That El Paso is like Dallas and Fort Worth and Irvine? Does Mr. Gonzalez own a map? Has he ever been to Lucy’s, or Chico’s, or the Jalisco? Or does he stick to the drive through at Taco Bell?

(I can understand Mr. Gonzalez’ reluctance to go out in public. He might be confronted by some citizen taxpayers.)

That’s the problem when you hire a carpetbagger and pay him $300,000 to live on the west side. Tommy Gonzalez is out of touch with the reality that most El Pasoans live.

Will the water parks be like the ballpark, and the Children’s Museum, and the Westside Natatorium? After the taxpayers have paid to build them, will the taxpayers pay to use them, too?

If the water parks are free, I promise that they’ll be a huge success. And I promise that the water parks will be a huge success when they first open. (Remember when the first Carl’s Jr. opened on Lee Trevino? There was a line down the block and a two hour wait. Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t remember that.) El Paso loves free. El Paso loves new. But El Paso is fickle. Attendance has even dropped off at the ballpark, and the ballpark is nice.

How much will users have to pay to use the water parks? The city pools cost $3.

Will the water parks cost users more than the city pools?

Will the water park user fees cover Operations and Maintenance? Have facilities user fees ever covered Operations and Maintenance for any of the City’s projects?


Remember, the streetcar has cost El Paso taxpayers more than a million dollars in Operations and Maintenance so far. We were in the hole for $900,000 in March.

To fund the water parks, the El Paso City Council issued more than $25 million in Certificates of Obligation, to augment the $12 million authorized by the 2012 Quality of Life bond election. That’s $37 million. Who pays that?

You do. If you own property, that money comes out of your property tax. If you rent an apartment, your rent check helps cover your landlord’s property tax bill. If you buy milk or eggs or beer, part of the cost of those staples goes towards the store owner’s property tax bill.

Our problem is that the people who run El Paso don’t love El Paso. So they keep trying to tart her up, to make her lovable.

El Paso is poorly managed. Join the resistance.


  1. Now, that’s funny. They closed three pools, and then attendance “surged” (his word) at the one remaining, new facility? And, no one could see a correlation?! At all?! I guess I’m just old to get this, but I really don’t see wanting (if I was a kid) to play with the garden hose, when I could immerse my whole body in a pool.

  2. This is the brand of economic tyranny that is being forced upon El Paso taxpayers by the unelected City Manager and the feckless City Council that rubber stamps his directives.

  3. Where does one sign up to join the resistance? My day job keeps me from running for city council but I’m all into help the movement in other ways.

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