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Dormont swimming pool doing fine, despite rumors

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Officials say Dormont's historic swimming pool is doing fine, despite officials having to quash a rumor that it would be sold or closed.

After being asked at their most recent council meeting whether it was true that the borough had entertained offers to sell or lease the pool, council members and officials said that was false and posted a statement to the borough's Facebook page reiterating that the pool “is not closing, is not being sold and is not being downsized.”

“I don't know why people have chosen now to start these rumors,” borough Manager Jeff Naftal said.

Originally built in the 1920s, the sprawling pool and surrounding park have become part of Dormont's identity. Council rejected plans to replace parts of the park and pool with a commercial development in 2007 after a wave of public opposition, but Councilman John Maggio — who also is president of the nonprofit Friends of Dormont Pool and ran for office on a platform of keeping the pool open — said that concerns about the pool's future never died down. His wife posed the question to council about the rumored sale.

“I don't feel like it's ever gone away,” Maggio said.

According to the borough's financial reports, the pool had fewer paying visitors or residents purchasing pool passes through June compared to the same period last year.

Revenue from passes totaled $32,900, and daily admissions brought in another $32,900 as of the end of last month, compared to $40,000 and $49,500, respectively, through the end of June 2012.

Naftal said bad weather this year has lowered attendance and revenue, but closing the pool because of bad weather saved the borough money on staffing and operations.

Expenses for the pool were listed at $66,900 through June 2013 compared to $76,370 through June 2012. The borough has spent $2,600 less this year on salaries at the pool and nearly $7,000 less on chemicals.

Maggio said keeping the pool is about more than money.

“If you look at the pool just as a money-maker, you're going to lose every time,” he said. “It's an asset to the community.”

The Friends of Dormont Pool planned to start door-to-door fundraising this week, Maggio said.

The only change the borough recently made at the pool was to pull out a diving board at its deep end, after the borough's insurance carrier re-examined the setup and determined the pool wasn't deep enough for safe diving. Since then, plenty of swimmers have still been leaping into the water from the pool's edge, but the borough will weigh some other amenities it could install there, Naftal said.

“When we pulled the diving board out, I told council we'd look at other options for the deep end,” he said. “We've looked at the possibility of a slide in the deep end ... or a rock-climbing wall that hangs out over the water, so you can climb to the top and jump off into the water.”

Naftal said the borough would start looking for grant money to repair or replace the bottom of the pool, made of concrete slabs with joints that have to be repaired almost yearly to prevent major leaks.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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