WAXAHACHIE — As voters head to the polls, they have several ballot items to consider, ranging from seven state constitutional amendments to propositions for improvements to Waxahachie ISD facilities. One of those is a $13 million bond proposal that would fund a natatorium to be built next to the new Waxahachie High School.
Waxahachie High School head swimming coach, Tamara Pruitt, stated that this facility would have a wide range of uses that will go beyond serving the school district.
“I am very excited about it because it is not just for the school. It is for the community. We travel and swim at all these different pools. All the things that I see going on in at all these places have other activities not just swim teams,” Pruitt said. “You see in the morning the elderly people that are getting out from their warm-up and daily exercise along with the water aerobics class and diving. We don’t get to have that now. I have a lot of students that would be interested in that now.”
Pruitt notes that this facility could be used to teach water safety classes for children, lifeguard training, summing camps, community swims, special events, and swimming could be added to the local Special Olympics events. The YMCA could also utilize it year-round for its aquatics program, as well.
The natatorium could also help the swim team expand, she added. It could also help the district add a diving team.
“When I first took over the team, we swam at the YMCA outdoors. It was heated but our season is all throughout the winter. So it would be 35 degrees and they would be swimming. It would be very difficult. I only had eight to 12 swimmers at the most because nobody would endure the hardships of it,” Pruitt recalled. “Then when SAGU opened we were able to go there. Our team went up to about 25, and now we are up to about 30, but we only have three lanes. You have to monitor who is in what lane so people with the same ability can swim together and not swim over each other. New swimmers have a hard time learning because they are not skilled enough to know exactly stay out of the way and not hit other swimmers.”
Pruitt stated that swimming helps to build confidence in people, which could help them grow as a person both in and outside of the pool. She hopes that when people go to the ballot box, they will look at the whole picture in how this would add to the amenities the city has to offer.
If approved by the voters, the City of Waxahachie has already agreed to help fund a portion of the operational costs associated with the facility. At the June 19 city council meeting, the council members approved $100,000 per year for the next 10 years for the natatorium’s operating costs. The agreement will be automatically renewed for an additional 10 years unless it is terminated. This would allow city residents to use the facility.
“Thirty years ago when we were doing the YMCA this community identified the need for a pool and an indoor pool was in the drawings that we used then. So 30 years later we are coming around to where we are going, ‘Well, we still see a need for an indoor-type pool.’ Today it has made its way to a bond opportunity in the schools," city councilman Mark Singleton said. “I think of the natatorium up in Duncanville that has been there for many, many years. I learned scuba diving in that pool and taught scuba diving in the pool. We got to do that year-round where it (aided) hundreds and hundreds of people. The impact of this project is that it will provide a unique cultural opportunity like Duncanville.”
Singleton stated that partnering with the school district on this project makes sound economical sense. It does not duplicate facilities but instead provides for the community as a whole. This facility is also another economic driver that can be used to market the city to prospective businesses to tell them the amenities residents have access to.
Early voting will take place 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Oct. 23-27, 8 a.m. -3 p.m. Oct. 28, 8 a.m. -6 p.m. on Oct. 30- Nov. 1, and 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Nov. 2-3. The primary early voting location is the Ellis County Elections Office located at 204. E. Jefferson St. in Waxahachie. Polling locations across the county will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Nov. 7.