The Mesa City Council grudgingly agreed Monday to approve a $6.4 million swimming pool reconstruction project at Rhodes Junior High School.
Mayor Scott Smith apologized to the Rhodes Junior High community attending the City Council meeting for a delay in the project, which he said he came about because a newly elected council had questions and concerns about the project that the previous council approved.
"There are ways we could have handled this better," Smith said.
The Council voted 4-3 to approve the matter with Alex Finter, Dina Higgins and Dave Richins voting against.
At issue was whether the project, which will include a Flow-Rider feature, was excessive spending in lean times and whether one part of the city was getting an improvement at the expense of other areas.
The amenity allows a person to boogie board or surf on a standing wave.
The previous City Council approved the project in April.
When approval for the construction contract came before the council in late June, the council pulled the matter from its agenda.
"After we pulled it there was a lot of consternation in the community," Smith said.
The pool had already been drained and a fence placed around it in preparation for construction when the project was stopped.
On Monday, Richins moved unsuccessfully to approve the contract immediately but to renegotiate it to reduce the cost and get rid of the Flow-Rider in favor of water slides that are standard in other city pools.
Richins said he was uncomfortable with the Flow-Rider because the city staff had no experience running one, but he was always in favor of the pool.
Linda Murphy, a mother whose teen attends Rhodes, said she felt the southwest side of Mesa has been neglected for years and the Flow-Rider would provide a draw for teenagers.
"Our teenagers have lost a lot of activities through cutbacks in parks and recreation," Murphy said.
The project will also include competition pools, a zero-depth entry pool for smaller children, a warm-up pool and a splash pad.
The project will be paid for with a 1996 quality of life tax overwhelmingly approved by voters.
Mark Yarbrough, a Parks Board member, said the tax has paid for several other city pools and each is unique to the demographics of the area.
He said there are more teenagers in the Rhodes area.
"We chose an amenity that, yes it's expensive, but it fits the demographics of our area," Yarbrough said.
Construction is to begin immediately and expected to be completed by August.