ShareThis Page

Fire company wants public input on fate of Buena Vista swim pool

| Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, 3:56 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Fire company officers Tom Knestaut, Rich Diehl, Dave Hinermann, and John Wood ignore the snow cover to discuss options for their swimming pool.

Despite last week's subzero temperatures and seemingly constant snow cover, members of the Buena Vista Volunteer Fire Co. in Elizabeth Township want residents to start thinking about their swimming pool.

A town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the fire hall to discuss the future of the public facility that the company has owned and operated since volunteers built it in 1949.

Chief Richard Diehl said firefighters then decided to build what is believed to be one of the longest standing in-ground public swimming pools in Allegheny County as a way to keep children from swimming in the Youghiogheny River.

Although the 110,000-gallon pool once served as the de facto center of the community during summer months, Diehl said attendance has diminished in recent years, bringing into question the future of the pool, which is funded entirely by the fire company with help from the ladies auxiliary.

“For the last 15 years, we've been losing $6,000 to $15,000 a year to keep it open,” Diehl said. “More people have pools of their own and donations have dwindled. Some of the proceeds of our social club go to offset the losses of the pool, but we need people to know that we're at a crossroads with it.”

Diehl said the pool — which is open to all residents of Elizabeth Township and the surrounding communities — is in desperate need of repairs and renovations to attract more patrons.

“It passes inspection every year, but new regulations forced us to hire two lifeguards and a pool manager and the cost of chemicals and insurance are always going up,” he said. “We keep entry fees at a base minimum because we want it to remain a community asset, but the bottom line is we're going to need more public support.”

Tom Knestaut, chairman of the company's swimming pool committee, said the purpose of Wednesday's meeting isn't to ask for money, but to learn how township residents feel about the pool.

“We want the community to tell us what they want, need and expect out of the facility so we know what we should do moving forward,” Knestaut said. “Hopefully, collectively, we can all come up with a good plan.”

Knestaut said state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin, and several township commissioners have said they'll be in attendance and there will be a screening of a converted 16mm film taken when the pool was being built more than 60 years ago.

“We hope to show people the hard work and dedication it took for our members to make that pool a reality,” Knestaut said. “For a long time, it was where everybody went in the summer. Things are different now and we don't want to close it, but we're going to need help from the community it still serves.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.