City of Pflugerville staff said improvements to Gilleland Creek Pool will be completed by Memorial Day weekend during an update to City Council on April 9.

Some context

Improvements for pool facilities date back nearly a decade when the city first issued certificates of obligation in 2016 to fund the project, which impacted residents' tax rates. Initial plans included an overhaul of the pool’s dilapidated facilities—a result of significant flooding in 2013 and 2015.

Pflugerville City Council did not actually approve the renovations until June 2021, though. A contract was awarded to 123 Builders Co. the following year, with a promise to deliver the completed project by summer 2023.

123 Builders missed the project deadline and subsequently filed for bankruptcy in January. The last communications received by City Council members regarding the project’s timeline was in October, Place 1 City Council member Doug Weiss said.

“I was a bit blindsided. I didn't realize it wasn't done yet,” Weiss said. “If we thought it was going to be done Oct. 9, and they didn't declare bankruptcy until January, what happened?”

Residents during the City Council meeting echoed Weiss’s sentiment, voicing concerns related to the status of the pool.

Pflugerville resident Rolando Andrade said the city is paying around $10,000 monthly for the portable restrooms on site, which was confirmed by city staff. He explained this one portable facility is not only expensive but also poorly maintained, noting that they are not regularly or properly cleaned, and waste removal is neglected.

“We've been paying for this for how many years? And we're worried about money?” Andrade said. “ ... I have a 6-year old that we would love to put them in [a swim program], but I don't want my kid changing on a port-a-can floor. Do you want your children doing that?”

Resident Rebecca Hutchinson touched on safety, functionality and accountability concerns, adding that she hasn’t seen anyone working on the facility since September.

“If you had been to the pool, you would see that [the work] hadn't been done. ... Who is accountable for this? Have any of y'all walked around that pool at all?” Hutchinson said. “... This is where [swim] camps happen and not just the swim team, but all four of the high schools swim at that pool.”

Council members stressed that going forward staff needs to come to City Council for updates of this magnitude, like a company filing for bankruptcy.

Terms to know

Certificates of obligation, or CO bonds, are typically backed by taxes or impact fee revenues, and they do not require voter approval unless 5% of qualified voters within the city’s jurisdiction petition for an election on the spending in question, according to the Texas Comptroller.

Put in perspective

Katie Kam, assistant director of traffic and transportation who has been overseeing the project since October, told City Council that as soon as the project was noticed to be slowing down, the city negotiated with 123 Builders to try to get the project back on track.

However, once the city was given notice of the contractor’s financial filing, city staff immediately began working to find new contractors to complete the work.

She explained that many contractors are hesitant to pick up projects that were not initiated by themselves due to risks and liability concerns.

Kam also emphasized that a legal process was kickstarted when 123 Builders abandoned the project, related to the CO bond funding used to pay for the project. She said this process can be lengthy.

Construction is expected to be completed by May 25, Kam said. However, several members of City Council expressed doubt about this timeline.

The remainder of work that needs to be completed includes a new restroom facility, a new lifeguard house and ticket window facility, installation of permanent fencing, and accessibility improvements, according to city documents. The new buildings will also be raised to prevent future flooding.

Improvements now total $1.77 million for the design, construction and shade structures, according to city staff.

“The Tesla gigafactory was built faster than this,” Place 2 City Council member Ceasar Ruiz said.