Council picks pool consultant

While efforts from the city administration continue, including selection of a consultant, not a dime of the $50,000 intended to come from community members has been raised toward opening Memorial Pool by 2015.

A worried Justin Simpson, city recreation director, informed City Council Thursday the fundraising is lagging despite efforts to organize a meeting late last year and one at 7 p.m. Feb. 4.

The city has secured $700,000 toward the renovation and reopening of the pool and bathhouse and asked the citizens to raise $50,000.

The city administration, meanwhile, is doing its part by getting approval from council Thursday to hire Wade Associates, a Harrisburg-based pool design team looking at the renovation of the pool on West Fourth Street. The contract approved is for $42,500. The company will prepare designs for the city officials to consider.

But as for the so-called friends of the pool who have vowed, after streams of people arrived to express their angst over the permanent closing of the pool, to raise the money through bake sales, hot dog and hamburger sales and other fundraisers, no contributions have yet been reported.

Council President Bill Hall joked that the slow start may have something to do with the temperature outside at minus 5 degrees.

“I hope this will come to fruition,” said Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith, chairman of the public works committee asking Simpson to apprise council about fundraising.

Simpson said a meeting in November was heavily attended and included promising statements from area high school swimmers but since then such communications have ceased, he said.

“I’m satisfied with where we are headed,” Councilman Randall J. Allison said, adding a hint of positivity to an otherwise gloomy discussion.

The administration and council hired a consultant to test the structural feasibility of East End and Memorial pools before deciding the Memorial Pool was less expensive and better alternative.

The project also coalesced with the timing of a demolition of the former Brodart warehouse, site of a planned 72-unit housing complex called Memorial Homes. People living in the apartments and townhouses and in the neighborhood are expected to use the pool. Access into the area, including improving the streets and sidewalks, are part of the overall improvement plan.

The administration also has been exploring a corporate sponsor for the pool, similar to what Mayor Gabriel J. Campana did with nearby Bowman Field.

In 2014, the historic stadium will be called Susquehanna Bank Park at Bowman Field, Campana said.

For that, the city has entered a contract to pay $30,000 a year for five years, he said.