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Tarentum's costly Snoopy pool to be replaced by spray park

| Monday, Oct. 3, 2011

The physical imprint that Snoopy, the lovable canine from the "Peanuts" comic strip, has on the borough is doomed.

The tot pool in the borough's Riverside Memorial Park, which is shaped like Snoopy, will be replaced by a spray park next spring, according to borough officials.

Allegheny County's redevelopment authority sealed the Snoopy pool's fate last week when it awarded a $75,000 grant to the borough to replace it with the spray park, according to Bill Rossey, borough manager.

"It should pretty much cover the cost, depending on how many spray items we will put in," Rossey said. "We got an estimate, and it looks like we could spend about half of that money for fixtures and the other half for the engineering and site preparation."

He said that after the borough engineer draws up the specifications, the project will be put out for bid and installation probably will occur in the spring.

"This is the latest thing, the upcoming thing in parks," said Barbara Magnetta, Tarentum Recreation Board chairwoman and wife of Mayor Carl Magnetta. "I don't know of anybody other than Deer Lakes that has this. Those kids out there are just engrossed with this.

"I think we are all excited about the change," she added. "We are all excited about having something new for the kids."

Magnetta said the plans she has seen are for a 3,400-square-foot spray park with 16 types of sprays, ranging from "the arch" to "water flowers" to the "water worm."

The Snoopy pool has been a popular feature of the park for about 30 years, but borough officials said there were reasons to make a change.

"Number one, it's cost," said Carl Magnetta. "You have the cost of the chemicals, you have the cost of the lifeguards, plus you have the cost of getting the water tested all the time. Every year the cost keeps going up and up."

He said he had been working on trying to secure funding and credited state Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, and state Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, for endorsing the project with the redevelopment authority.

"We just figured if we could get this, it would be good for the kids, it would be good for us because it will save money in the long run," he said. "I just think it will be a great addition to the park."

Rossey said the borough was spending about $10,000 a year just to keep the tot pool going. He said the pool only had about four to six inches of water in it but the borough had to meet county health department water quality standards.

"You've got little kids in diapers down there, so we have to test the water to make sure that we have enough chlorine in there," he said.

That meant having the water in the pool tested every hour, including over the weekends, which led to the borough paying 16 hours in overtime every weekend to the person doing the testing, Rossey said.

In addition, he said the pool was closed for cleaning once a week and it required the presence of lifeguards, who were becoming increasingly difficult to find.

With the spray park, none of that will be needed because there will be no standing pool of water. In fact, there will be no water running unless someone is in amongst the fixtures.

"It's all motion activated, all you have to do is open up the fence," Rossey said, adding that the park can be kept open from morning to night instead of the current 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekday hours.

Also, he said the surface will be rubberized to protect children so that if they fall, they are not falling on concrete.

"This is something that everyone thought would serve more people better," Rossey said. "We just feel that more people could take advantage of it if it's a spray park."

"Actually, I think it is going to be safer, in my opinion," Barbara Magnetta said. " It's going to be a fun thing."

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