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Mars community pool may close for good without help

| Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, 11:24 a.m.
People enjoy a free swim at the Mars Community Swimming Pool on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.
Logan McSwain, 6, of Mars, takes off with his sweets after buying them from lifeguard Lauren Laughlin Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 at the Mars Community Pool. With wanning membership, the pool's future is uncertain and may close after 53 years.

Without outside help, the Mars Community Pool likely will close for good at the end of the season, members of the pool's board of directors said.

“It's going to foreclose” if no financial savior is found, said Angie McSwain, wife of pool board president Mac McSwain. “Or the land could be donated for a nonprofit organization. No one wants to see it not open or become an eyesore.”

Direct financial help from the borough won't be coming, Mars Mayor Gregg Hartung said during a community meeting Wednesday about the fate of the private pool.

“Council has already said it doesn't want to be in the pool business,” Hartung said, adding that most community pools are a break-even business. He suggested an authority could be formed to oversee operations, with the pool becoming a public entity. He met with pool representatives to gauge community interest.

About a dozen people attended.

The pool, built in the 1950s, needs 150 members each year to be financially sustainable, said Mac McSwain. The pool has 94 members.

The group said it spends about $45,000 a year on insurance, chemicals and related expenses. But the board is paying off a $150,000 debt for a recreation building built at the pool in 2008, and simply can't afford the payments any longer because of dwindling attendance.

Pools in housing plans and other area pools, including Cranberry's, have drawn away swimmers over the years, board members said.

The board plans on reaching out to other parties, including officials in Adams, to see if there's any interest in taking over operations.

“We love this pool,” said Nicole Clark, of Adams, who brought her children, Kayleigh, 8, and Shay, 5, to the pool Wednesday evening. “We like the community setting. They know your name here. They know your kids. It's not too big of a pool. It's just the right size.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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