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Lakeview neighbors get a say in neighborhood park’s future. Could soccer field, splash park be next?

Lakeview Park

The pool has deteriorated in recent years and can’t be repair, engineers say. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The concession area must be demolished. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

A city crew was cutting grass at Lakeview Park this week. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The pool and park are located in a residential area. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The Lakeview area has seen an influx of Hispanic and Latino residents; city leaders say a soccer field would better fit those living there now. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The pool is closed for a second consecutive season. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The park fronts Seventh Street in the Lakeview neighborhood, which was incorporated as a town for four decades. (Ken Stickney/The News) 6-18-19

The swimming pool at Lakeview Park, closed for a second, consecutive summer, is a likely candidate for demolition, Chandra Alpough, director of Port Arthur Parks and Recreation, said this week. The question is: What’s next?

City Councilmembers voted 5-0 Tuesday night to approve a $39,360 contract with Sigma Engineering of Beaumont to design a splash pad and soccer field at the pool area, a plan that would rid the city of a continuing problem with crumbling infrastructure and revamp the park to better serve the neighborhood’s population.

Alpough said the biggest problem is the pool’s age. The pool has encountered pipe failures, constant fence repairs and leaks. She said pool parts wore out and replacing them has proved difficult.

“The older something gets, the less it works properly,” she said.

Concerns at the pool included the bathhouse, which was open at the top, deteriorating deck and the constant need to replace pumps. It did not meet requirements for people with disabilities.

She said Sigma’s initial review of the pool area determined that the dressing rooms and concession areas could not be repaired. Four leaks were found under the deck, as well as other code and safety violations.

Fixing the pool and the area around it would cost more than $800,000, she said. The city has about $250,000 on hand for work at the park.

Alpough said the splash pad would give the park a water feature, and a soccer field or a sand volleyball court might be popular in the Lakeview neighborhood. The city would keep the existing playground area.

She said before the city would do any work, the park designers would hold public meetings to gauge what the community would like to see there.

District 2 Councilmember Cal Jones, who represents the area, said he’d like to see improvements soon. He lives a few blocks away, and said when there was a functional pool there, it was seldom used.

“Most of the citizens play soccer,” he said. “I’m ready to get this project done now, not next year. I’m ready to move this project forward.”

So was Mayor Derrick Freeman, who said he’s eager for the city to develop soccer fields. He said a splash pad and soccer field would be the “highest and best use” for the property.

Interim City Manager Rebecca Underhill said redesigning the park would give it “a second season” rather than just a pool for the summer.

“I’m looking forward to community input on this project,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, Rogelio Cardenas, who lives nearby on Ninth Street, said he’d prefer a soccer field “for sure.”

He said his own two children sometimes “just grab a soccer ball and play in the street.”

On Sixth Street, Alfred Kuntz, who has lived in the neighborhood since before the annexation, said his own son used to swim at the pool when he was a child back in the 1980s. The neighborhood has changed, he said, as mostly people with Hispanic or Latino roots have moved in.

That suggests a need for a soccer field for their children, he said.

“These people are happy. They party all the time but they don’t fight. They’re nice neighbors,” he said, adding he’d be happy for their children to have a redesigned, attractive and well-used park.