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Crawford Pool to celebrate 50 years with free swimming for Shaler Township residents

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:06 p.m.
File photo
Crawford Pool has been a mainstay of the community for 52 years, but now is in need of some TLC in the offseason.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
The Crawford Pool, as it appears today, has been a destination in Kiwanis Park for 50 years, and Shaler Township officials will celebrate the milestone with special events on July 6.

The Crawford Pool in Kiwanis Park has been a center for summer community activity in Shaler Township for 50 years, and on July 6, the community will celebrate the milestone.

Season-pass holders and all Shaler Township residents, with photo identification, can enjoy the pool facilities for free starting at noon, and a disc jockey will play music from 1 to 5 p.m. as part of the pool's 50th-anniversary celebration.

“Not every community has a community pool, and that's a real attribute to our township,” said Susan Fisher, a township commissioner and chairwoman of the parks and recreation committee.

The Crawford Pool opened on July 1, 1964, as the Shaler Township Pool at Kiwanis Park. It was renamed Crawford Pool in memory of William Crawford, Shaler Township's manager from April 1962 to December 1988.

In the early years of the pool, Sam Condeluci remembers seeing hundreds of visitors arrive at the pool by the bus load.

“When it first opened, it was the best thing in the Shaler district because we were extremely busy the first day we opened,” said Condeluci, now of Hampton, who served as the pool's first assistant manager and later became the manager. “The crowd increased as time went on. The township became a little more crowded.”

During the weekdays, a bus system operated in the township to transport children to the pool.

“We would get half a dozen buses at quarter to one — 500 young people,” Condeluci said.

Crawford Pool has been the only community pool in the township since the closure of the private Village Manor Pool on McElheny Road in 1989.

It has grown to offer amenities such as lounge chairs, umbrellas and a water slide, and programming has expanded to include swimming lessons for toddlers through school-age children, a swim team and swimming classes for individuals with special needs.

Bill Mattock's late wife, Carole, helped to start the Water Babies program at the pool with Suzanne Jacobs for children age 18 to 42 months. Today, Mattock continues to support the program through an annual donation.

“Part of it is the legacy of my wife but also to pay it forward,” Mattock said. “We were helped during that time after my wife passed by so many friends and neighbors who were so supportive of us … and it's a way of me trying to help others the way I was helped but in another manner.”

Today, Mattock enjoys visiting the pool to see the latest generation of children enjoying themselves in the water.

“I think it's a nice way to be able to help the kids,” Mattock said.

This spring, crews worked to give the pool area and pool house a face-lift ahead of its big anniversary.

Township employees remodeled the changing areas, shower stalls, sinks and lockers in the men's and women's bathrooms in the pool house. Crews replaced concrete around the deep end of the pool and the two diving boards. In the park around the pool, crews also replaced the basketball- and tennis-court surfaces.

For Mike McDermott of Shaler, who managed the pool for 30 years, the best part of the facility is the people who work there, the people who visit and the memories that are made.

McDermott hired countless high school students, “quality people,” to work at the pool, and many now return to use the pool.

“I would say with the kids I met, I developed a real special bond with a lot of them and still see a lot of them now. They bring their families down to the pool,” McDermott said. “Sometimes, they'll stop in the office and remind me that they grew up there and are bringing families back.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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