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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Unique New Natatorium Officially Opens in Pharr

Amazing things happen when people work together

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Texas Border Business

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

It’s true that when leaders agree to work together, beautiful things happen, like creating a new and unique Natatorium in Pharr, Texas. I can only find one word to describes the aquatic facility, Grandioso!

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The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, the UTRGV University, and the City of Pharr have accomplished something unprecedented. Here is a bit of history for this project.

On September 27, 2019, the City of Pharr in coordination with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD), celebrated the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the city’s first-ever Natatorium. The facility features a 50-meter competition pool, a dive pool with springboards and platforms, and spectator seating. 

The City of Pharr is leading in many areas. Their commitment to continue the legacy of bringing educational partnerships is among its most successful accomplishments. 

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Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, MD celebrating the Pharr Natatorium grand opening its partners present. Image credit Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

It was a historic occasion on November 4, 2021, when the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District presented a check for $12,225,000 to the City of Pharr for this joint agreement which was unanimously approved by the school board on October 25, 2021. As part of the agreement, PSJA ISD and the City of Pharr will share usage, and the costs of maintenance and repairs of the facility.

On that day, the leaders did an official walk-through of the facility to further expand the PSJA ISD Aquatics Program. This facility, along with the pools recently completed in San Juan at PSJA Early College HS and in Alamo at PSJA Memorial, are some of the best recreational and competition aquatic facilities south of San Antonio.

On Saturday, January 29, 2022, the long-awaited celebration took place. The ribbon-cutting ceremony brought leaders from education, and state and municipal leaders to participate in this one-of-a-kind event. Officially, the Pharr Natatorium is now open on Sioux Rd. and I-69.

Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, MD, has been especially proud to partner with UTRGV and PSJA ISD on this Natatorium. This innovative and educational facility will serve the communities for future generations.

Yuri Gonzalez, director of the communications department in Pharr, said it well, “This is a historic day. Today, we come together to celebrate a grand opening and the ribbon-cutting ceremony of this great spectacular, breathtaking state-of-the-art Natatorium.”

Dr. Guy Bailey

Dr. Guy Bailey, president of UTRGV commented, “This arena is so good that even before we started our swimming and diving team, and that’ll be here soon, the Western Athletics Conference has called the university proposing to use the facility for tournaments.” He continued, “Think about that. The conference championship, even before we were able to compete in it, how, how can you beat that?”

Dr. Bailey said that this moment was especially gratifying for him, and he proudly pointed to the sign behind him, highlighting the logos of the three partners that made possible the aquatic venue. 

“Look at the sign behind me. It’s all of us working together. There is a lesson there. It’s all of us working together that makes things happen. That’s what makes the Valley a great place.” 

Dr. Bailey said that Mayor Hernandez is a terrific person and that they have a lot of projects together. “So, this isn’t the ending. This is the beginning of a whole series of projects.”

Dr. Jorge Arredondo

Dr. Jorge Arredondo said that it was also a special moment for him. As the superintendent of the Pharr, San Juan, Alamo Independent School District, he is super proud of our entire Tri-City community for embracing swimming and for embracing PSJA.

“I’d like to thank God for blessing us with this great opportunity to be here today. I’d like to acknowledge the school board for their work.” Dr. Arredondo said, “In the last two years, we have been able to complete the construction of three facilities. The Natatorium is the third one and the largest one. The aquatic venue positions us to be the leader when it comes to aquatics.”

He also pointed out that in their partnership with UTRGV and the City of Pharr, they accomplished the seamless process of students starting from Pre-K 3 and being involved in academics and extracurricular activities until they get their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Pictured above, a group of students members of the diving team from the Pharr San Juan Alamo School District. They participated during the event of Pharr City Address. Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, MD. made time to recognize the students for their participation and present them with a momentum, a nice jacket. The mayor invited the entire Pharr City commission to take part in this memorable occasion. Image credit Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

“That is just an awesome experience when we can bring those life-changing opportunities.” He continued, “When you see this spectacular building, you have to see beyond. It will impact generations to come because they’re going to be afforded life-changing opportunities and compete, excel and bring that multi-generational prosperity that we want for all our students and our community members,” he said. 

Dr. Nolan Perez, a gastroenterology specialist by trade, was also present because he is a member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents. He said, “How do we connect the learning with future opportunities and future jobs and degrees? That’s what we’re doing right here in front of our eyes.” He continued, “Because amazing things happen when you have great leadership.”

He also said, “When everybody comes together, leave their egos and agendas at the door, and act with common sense, care, and compassion, great things happen.”

Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, MD, who has been responsible for the partnership between PSJA ISD and UTRGV, said he is also very proud of what has been achieved. He mentioned that sometimes he had been criticized for venturing to carry out projects that may be difficult or even impossible to achieve.

“There’s no question,” he said, “We can get a lot of things done when we all work together. And that’s always been our premise at the City of Pharr.”

He said that they look for great partners, “We look for people better than us, because we know they can elevate us, and show us things that maybe we didn’t quite see in front of us.”

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