Chambersburg faces recreation challenges

June 17, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Chambersburg's Memorial Park and its municipal pool cost about $1 million to develop when they opened in 1969, but 38 years later, the pool is showing its age, and repairs and upgrades could cost more than $3 million.

The pool is one of several expensive challenges facing the borough's Recreation Department, according to Superintendent Herb Dolaway.

Others include the development of three new parks, renovation of the tennis courts at Memorial Park, the future of Henninger Field and renovation of the Mike Waters Playground.

"There's more things that are coming together than at any time in the 50-some years of the Recreation Department," said Dolaway, who has been with the department for 28 years and has been superintendent since 1991.

The department has kept facilities up and running and made improvements along the way, often with grants. But they are approaching an age at which major work is needed, Dolaway said.


With a budget of less than $1.1 million this year, Dolaway said a bond issue would be the most practical way of making all of the improvements.

"If it's going to be done, that's the only way to do it," he said.

The pool looked inviting as young people gathered at the entrance before the gates opened on Friday at 12:30 p.m., but appearances can be deceiving. After 38 years, pumps, filters and underground pipes are showing their age, and the baby pool was closed, having become an almost constant maintenance problem, said Julie Redding, the department's assistant superintendent.

"On a good hot day, we average around 800 people ... On an average fair day, you're probably looking at 550 as a solid figure," Redding said of pool attendance.

The $4.50 daily admission and memberships - which for a family living in the borough is $180 for the 81-day season - allow patrons use of the pool, as well as basketball courts, miniature golf, volleyball and a skate park, Redding said.

"The pool is probably the most heavily used facility we own and operate," Redding said. "It's important to us to try and make sure the project is accepted by the borough and we're able to move forward in the near future."

Along with replacing the 550,000-gallon pool's mechanical elements, Redding said plans are to remodel the bathhouses and add a splash pool, a popular feature at water parks, "to encourage more young families to use the facility."

"You wouldn't be able to revamp the pool for any less than $3 million," Redding said.

All of the projects listed by Dolaway will take money, but most are not funded. Last week, the department held a meeting to get public input on plans for three new parks - one on the Gabler Tract in the North End, another in the Mill Creek Acres development in the South End and a third at the Nicholson Square development.

The developers of those properties had to contribute land or money in lieu of land to the borough for recreation. Dolaway said at that meeting that about $300,000 is set aside for the park at Mill Creek Acres, but no money has been made available for the other two.

Adding it up

Redoing the tennis courts would cost about $100,000, while upgrades to Henninger Field could range from $150,000 to $1 million, Dolaway said.

A decision about the future of the baseball diamond partially is in the hands of the Chambersburg Area School District, which is in talks with both the borough and Greene Township about where its teams will play, Dolaway said.

There is $300,000 in state grant money to renovate Mike Waters Playground on South Second Street, he said.

Dolaway said he could not put a dollar figure on how much money would be needed to do all of the improvements. Designs must be completed and cost estimates developed before that can happen.

"Grants would be nice. I think realistically, if we're ever going to fulfill everything on the list, we're going to have to look at a bond issue," Borough Council President William McLaughlin said. "These are long-term improvements ... appropriate for a long-range obligation like a bond issue."

In addition to being popular with bathers, the pool also employs a number of young people, such as 18-year-old lifeguard Katelin Lambert.

"I've been working here for four years, and they've been talking about at least that long," Lambert said about renovating the pool. "I hope they do it soon ... I enjoy coming to work, and I get a good tan."

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