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Leechburg pool hopes to raise funds to marks 50th anniversary

| Sunday, April 10, 2011

Matt Sorisio is hoping for a hot, dry and muggy summer.

Just the kind of weather to get folks in the mood for a dip in the Leechburg Area Pool, which actually is located in Gilpin.

"The hotter and drier the better," said Sorisio, who's been president of the pool's board since November.

Pool leaders say they are shooting for a Memorial Day weekend opening.

They're hoping people who haven't been there in a while will come back this summer as the pool marks its 50th anniversary.

Sorisio got involved with the pool after financial difficulties threatening its future came to a head last summer.

He and other pool officers have launched fundraisers and taken efforts to bring people back. They've worked to clean up the facility's finances, including getting tax-exempt status and setting up a payment plan for back taxes with the Leechburg Area School District.

But the pool isn't out of the woods yet.

"This is a very pivotal year for us," Sorisio said.

"We're on the bubble here," pool treasurer Nicole Fello said.

Last year, pool members were warned that the facility was at risk of foreclosure and sheriff's sale and may not open this summer. It was low on cash, bills were mounting and a loan payment had been missed. There were fewer family memberships and attendance was down.

Donations in the fall -- of almost $20,000 -- made it possible for the pool to meet all of its financial obligations for 2010, Sorisio said. Fundraisers over the winter were successful and are continuing.

Now, the attention is on "maintenance fees," which are the money people pay for access to the pool for the full season and, as reflected in their name, pay for pool maintenance.

"Without the maintenance fees, I don't think the place would open," Sorisio said. "The maintenance fees are what get that pool off the ground."

Sorisio said surveys were sent to lost members asking why they had left and what they'd like to see changed at the pool.

The survey found some families dropped their membership when their children grew up.

In response to the survey, the pool has tweaked its maintenance fee schedule.

Previously, just two adults were required to pay the family rate, which is $275 if paid by April 16.

A couple's rate of $190 has been created.

Students will be able to get a season pass for $75, instead of paying the $150 cost for a single adult.

On top of the maintenance fee, new members to the pool are required to pay a one-time membership fee.

For the anniversary that fee will be $50 -- down from $300.

As of this week, 20 families, 10 singles and five students had paid, Fello said.

She'd like to see 150 families join; last year, there were about 100.

"When we were young, it was wall-to-wall, blanket-to-blanket," she said.

Contrary to popular misconception, the pool is not for members only.

Regular general admission rates are unchanged at $6 for those age 5 and up and $1.50 for those age 4 and under.

An open house with free admission is planned for the weekend of June 4-5.

"That's a small way to say thank you to the public," Fello said.

An anniversary celebration is planned, but the details are still being worked through.

"Everything reverts to, 'What is it going to cost?'" Sorisio said.

The pool has weathered the winter well, Sorisio said. Cleaning and painting in the run-up to opening will soon start.

"Please come out and give us another look," Sorisio said.

Project Sole fundraiser

Leechburg Area Pool is accepting donations of athletic tennis shoes, work boots and rubber soled shoes. The pool gets $2 for each pair; the shoes go to people in underprivileged communities around the world.

Donations can be dropped off daily through May 25 unless otherwise noted at these locations:

• Step It Up Fitness, Leechburg

• USA Fitness, Lower Burrell

• Leechburg IGA

• Kiddie's Korner Nursery School, Apollo

• Leechburg High School

• Leechburg Public Library (evenings)

• Leechburg Little League opening day, April 30 at Leechburg Pool tent

Additional Information:

On the Web

A new website for the Leechburg Area Pool has been created here .

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