Swim hopes

A grassroots organization trying to raise funds for waterpark-like features at a renewed Memorial Pool may have to have the same perseverance as those who toiled in soil and planted seeds at the community garden at Lose Park, just up the street.

That’s the kind of resilience City Councilwoman Liz Miele, a member of the city recreation commission, believes the Friends of Memorial Pool will have to demonstrate as they try to raise money to pay for amenities at the pool, scheduled to reopen next summer.

“It’s going to be hard, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile,” said Miele, who mirrors the burgeoning efforts of the group to those of the gardeners five years ago. Now they harvest vegetables from 16 to 20 plots annually.

“Their small success is what gives me energy to say we can benefit from something better and bigger,” Miele said.

The Friends of Memorial Pool so far have raised a fraction of their $50,000 goal established by council, but its lead organizer is determined the fund will only grow before the summer’s end.

Thus far, the group has collected just shy of $2,000, according to Justin Simpson, city recreation director.

“We’re excited to be holding a lot of fundraisers,” said Irish Griffin, a West Fourth Street resident and president of the organization.

Griffin said she’s not bothered by the slow start.

The hard winter interfered, but several ideas are in the works for bake sales, hot dog and hamburger sales and picnics.

Her enthusiasm has been welcomed by Miele, others on council and Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

Council President Bill Hall asked the community to raise whatever it could, making the goal $50,000, to help in the cause and prove it could take “ownership” of the community pool.

“It’s a city-operated facility but it’s the community’s pool,” Hall said.

The city is investing a lot in the project, Miele said, adding the city is borrowing $200,000, seeking a $250,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant and using $250,000 in community block grant funds to go toward building a new version of the pool.

“It’s going to be nice,” said Campana, who said all efforts by Friends of Memorial Pool are separate from the city but are welcomed as state grants become more difficult and competitive to obtain.

Griffin, too, is excited by plans created by Wade Associates of Harrisburg, which has a $42,000 contract with the city for the design.

“I think the design looks more like a water park with a slide, water umbrella and handicapped accessibility,” Griffin said.