CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi District 5 City Councilman Gil Hernandez says the potential $10 million investment to create the Bill Witt Aquatic Center is a much bigger deal than having a recreational area for swimmers -- this aquatic center could potentially save lives.
Hernandez said he was a lifeguard in high school and saw the firsthand benefits of learning to swim.
“I was a lifeguard when I was in high school and I had worked at a pool,” he said. “And we showed up at the pool one day and there was somebody that drowned; that jumped over the fence, and drowned that died."
City council was set to discuss this project Tuesday but pushed it to to the first meeting in April.
This potential aquatic center for Bill Witt Park has become a passion project for Hernandez.
“When you think about it, you really want to have your kids be able to swim,” he said. “And if we're not doing that, it's shame on us. And so when I say this is important to me beyond just the aspect of what it is, or the fact that it's in District 5 -- there's a lifesaving component, as well.”
Ashley Garcia is a competitive swimmer at Carroll High School. As such, she sees the need for a third space to practice.
"I think it is a good opportunity because, for one, we only have two pools, and sometimes those pools -- it tends to be a 50/50 shot," she said. "This pool sometimes gets full of people and it's kind of crowded. And then the natatorium, you're pretty much having to bet on if it's open or not."
Garcia feels a larger facility can reach more people who can share the same appreciation for the sport.
“You have people around here who can go to this place, and you have people around that area that can just have fun there, experience the same joy that the people here feel," she said.
If approved, the anticipated completion of the project is May 2024.
"This is the first time in 30 years we're actually building a new swimming pool in a new location,” he said. “You know, we're a city surrounded by water -- it is important for us to be able to have the facilities to teach our kids how to swim."
Money from the 2022 city bond will pay for the project.