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Renovated Munhall library pool reopens

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 3:21 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Alice Lucas, right, and her daughter Kathy Lucas, both of Munhall, enjoy the first swim Monday at the newly renovated pool at Carnegie Library of Homestead’s Athletic Club.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
A new entrance was made to the Mathieson Family Pool in the Carnegie Library of Homestead.

Munhall residents Alice and Kathy Lucas have not gone swimming at the Carnegie Library of Homestead's pool for at least three decades.

Kathy Lucas said she last did a lap about 50 years ago, and her daughter Alice was at the Munhall facility as a teenager about 30 years ago.

They were among the first group of swimmers at the pool's grand re-opening this week.

The pool's been closed since June for repairs and renovations. Work began in July and the pool was re-opened on Monday.

The Lucas' were monitoring the pool's progress through the library's website and calls to the athletic club office.

“We're very close and we've been waiting for it to reopen since the reconstruction started,” Alice Lucas, 43, said. “We wanted something for exercise that was non-impact. We've just been waiting.”

“This is nice. It's great,” Kathy Lucas, 66, said. “I'm going to send a picture to my doctor just to prove that I'm here. When they said it was opening April 1 we thought it was an April fool's joke.”

Improvements include new lighting, liners, filter system, electrical work, roof, ladders on each end, a glass door entrance, expanded steps and a lift machine to provide handicap access.

“We're definitely going to have a lift in usage,” Athletic Club director Edward Child said. “A lot of the previous members are back here today, the first day. We've had new members call in signing up in anticipation of an opening. We added family swim nights. We expect a great turn out. I don't know if they even had a family swim. People learned (how to swim) here. I don't think there was ever an open swim. It was always kind of adults. We're going to allow families, infants and kids of all ages.”

Child noted the depth of the pool increased from 7 feet to 8 feet in the deep end, and from 2.5 feet to 3.5 feet in the shallow end.

“Raising the depth allows for proper lap swimming,” he said.

West Mifflin resident Nancy Binkney also was at the library Monday, but did not take the first plunge.

Binkney said she's been an avid swimmer at different pools for 16 years, including the library's athletic club after the YMCA in McKeesport closed.

“The water's usually warm, which we arthritics like,” Binkney said. “If there's not a particular program going on like aqua fit, they have a roped off area for lap swimmers and other areas for people who just want to do water exercises. It's a very nice old facility.”

The pool was unveiled and dedicated in late November as part of the Steel Valley Hall of Fame ceremony at the library.

It was not opened until Monday because more work needed done prior to people swimming in it.

“We wanted to have the pool completed without needing minor things repaired,” Child said. “The extension was really fine-tuning everything.”

The swimming pool dedication coincided with the Steel Valley Hall of Fame because three Olympic swimmers and their coach were inducted.

Library director of building operations Matt Szanca said the renovation of the 114-year-old pool cost approximately $200,000.

“This is the oldest, heated, continuously operated pool in Pennsylvania,” Szanca said. “This library's the community center.”

The pool repairs were made possible by donations of $75,000 from the Mathieson and Cook families and $100,000 from Steel Valley benefactor William V. Campbell Jr.

Members of the Mathieson and Cook families grew up in the area and swam at the pool often. Campbell, a 1958 Homestead High School graduate who now lives in Palo Alto Calif., regularly makes contributions to benefit the children of the Steel Valley.

The second phase of repairs, expected to begin this month, will be to the locker rooms courtesy of a $60,000 donation from Lori Flesher on behalf of the Flesher and Tener families.

Child said the original locker rooms are still being used, and will be brought up-to-date with the pool.

He noted there are more than 700 athletic club members with 50 of them being pool-only.

Pool hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. for adult swim.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5-8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. for family swim.

Aqua fit classes are Monday and Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. Swimming lessons are being planned.

Pool passes are $28 per month for an individual, $25 for students or seniors, and $50 for families. Day passes are $10 for an individual or $15 for a family.

Cost of all athletic club amenities, including its fitness programs and the pool, is $35 per month.

Contact the athletic club office at 412-462-3444, ext. 225, for passes and more information.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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