Mayor critical of fundraising effort

It’s been eight months since the Friends of Memorial Pool met in early November to raise a goal of $50,000 to be turned in toward costs of rebuilding Memorial Park and the community group has raised roughly $3,000.

But with an Aug. 31 deadline set by the administration, so pool builders know what infrastructure to install, the lack of community support upset Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, who said he has to seek other private funding sources to make up the loss.

“I’m quite disappointed the citizens did not step up to the plate and fell far short of the goal,” Campana said. “I am concerned that the dollars coming in at this point are $47,000 shy of the goal of the pool the community wanted.”

The base bid is $650,000, with engineering adding another $50,000, said John Grado, city engineer and director of community and economic development. He said the pool will be reconstructed and open in May.

The city has secured $700,000 through the planned use of $250,000 in a community development block grant, borrowing $200,000 as part of the $20 million bond and a $250,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, he said.

“At this point, depending on the budget, it will be a basic pool with zero-depth entry and areas for spray apparatus,” Grado acknowledged.

“The community promised they would be involved,” Council President Bill Hall said. “I hope they hold up their end of the bargain.” Geology of both pools, at Memorial Park and Shaw Place Park in the city’s East End, were tested, Hall said. It was the administration that determined, based on the studies, Memorial Park’s pool was less expensive to repair, Hall said.

Irish Griffin, former president of Friends of Memorial Pool, recently resigned her position.

“It was a bit too much,” Griffin said.

The group was able to raise $1,000, turning the cash over to the city recreation director Justin Simpson during a winter home builder’s show at Lycoming College. Another $650 was donated at a booth at the show, Simpson said.

Since then, the group has not contributed any funds, he said.

The city Finance Department records indicate $2,946 has been collected for Memorial Pool, according to Joe Pawlak, city finance and budget officer.

“That’s 6 percent of $50,000,” he said.

The money will go toward a water feature, most of which cost several thousand dollars, Simpson said.