Mayor pulls resolution on pool grant off council agenda

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana Tuesday pulled a resolution to fund East End Pool by $250,000 with state government grant money off City Council’s agenda Thursday.

Campana said he did it because he believed the pool required a core test and plumbing inspection before asking council to commit.

“I want to pull the resolution and more testing done,” Campana said Tuesday at the city Public Works Committee meeting.

The resolution was an amendment of a $250,000 grant targeted for repairing Memorial Pool, but Campana wants that money to be put into East End Pool at Shaw Place Park, which had more than 3,000 visitors this year.

Councilman Don Noviello said there are many more than 3,000 taxpayers in the city and their needs also must be met and the city leaders cognizant of them.

Pools and whether the city can afford to keep one open have become a topic of discussion.

“I think the public needs to know that operating a pool is not just filling a hole with water,” Noviello said.

“It involves a whole lot more complexity.”

“We need a pool for the kids in the city,” Councilwoman Bonnie Katz said.

Campana said the next step will be to do a core test of the pool at Shaw Place Park to see if it’s structurally sound. The cost will be discussed at committee level, he said.

Repairing Memorial Park and East End pools are estimated at $1.3 million. Campana said he would want to see $750,000 invested in the Shaw Place Park pool and the Memorial Park Pool filled in and seeded.

Justin Simpson, city recreation director, said corporate sponsorships of the East End Pool were explored as a possible funding source.

Selling business naming rights worked out for Bowman Field, Campana said. He said Susquehanna Bank has agreed to put its name on the 87-year-old ballpark starting next year and will pay the city $30,000 a year over five years. It will be named “Susquehanna Park at Bowman Field,” he said.

“Selling naming rights to the pool might be a worthwhile endeavor,” Noviello said. “It could be done without too much difficulty.”

Noviello also said he wanted the city to consider River Valley Transit options for residents in the center and West End who used Memorial Park Pool.

Community pools are seeing a resurgence in use since the downturn of the economy in 2008,” according to Brent Boyer, a pool consultant and builder who attended the meeting.

Campana also said continued trash build up at Memorial Park has factored into the decision to keep the pool closed and fill it over with dirt and grass.

The mayor said he worried that if the pool were repaired and opened that the city would have to hire a security service because of the “deviant behavior in that park.”

Campana and others expressed safety concerns because many motorists use the connecting road in front of Memorial Park Pool – accessed at West Fourth Street – to reach Memorial Avenue.

Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith, chairman of the committee, also viewed any potential safety risks and security costs to be intolerable. “I’m against having to hire a security agent while the pool is kept open,” Smith said. “Any profit, if there is any, would go into security.”

He also said he supported efforts to test the structural integrity of East End Pool to determine if it’s worth investing in.