Monroeville pool faces last season to make way for turnpike project
Anna Parker was dismayed when she found out this was the last summer she could bring her two grandchildren to the Monroeville Community Pool.
“I got a lot of good memories here,” she said while enjoying a sunny day at the pool.
A Monroeville resident, Parker, 57, has been coming to the swimming hole as many as three times a week during summer months for more than a decade.
Parker has looked after her seven- and 14-year-old grandchildren since 2013, when their mother died. They learned to swim at the pool, and Parker has found a sense of community there.
“I’m a single grandma. I don’t get out to do much,” she said. “So it feels good to know people and it’s a good community.”
It might be the last season for Monroeville Community Pool at Bel-Aire Park, which is owned by the municipality. Monroeville council has advertised an ordinance that would allow them to sell the pool in order to make way for the slated turnpike-widening project.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission agreed to purchase the property for $956,000 and to wait to buy it until after Labor Day, on Sept. 2. Monroeville Manager Tim Little and council members have said the deal is better than losing the property to eminent domain.
Council must pass an ordinance in order to sell municipal property, which could come up for a vote June 18.
What happens to the revenue generated from the sale is up for debate. Some council members, such as Greg Erosenko and Linda Gaydos, have said the money should be used to pave roads and fund other infrastructure projects.
Mayor Nick Gresock and Councilman Steve Duncan have said the money should be reinvested in parks and recreation.
Monroeville resident JoAnne Wyble agrees with the latter.
“Build another pool. And this time put it somewhere it won’t get taken over by the turnpike,” said Wyble, a pool member for four years.
“I’m going to miss this pool,” she said while sitting at a covered picnic table with her granddaughter, Samantha, 10.
Jessica Whetstone of Level Green said she and other members have discussed where they could all go together when the pool closes.
Whetstone said the options include private pools, but memberships at those clubs cost more. Other pools have volunteer hours, making it hard to line up schedules. And county wave pools, such as Boyce Park Wave Pool, is a different experience – one she wouldn’t feel comfortable allowing her five- and seven-year-old swim in for safety reasons.
“The money should go to parks and recreation,” she said. “If they want to keep attracting young families, you need to offer something that makes people want to be here.”
The pool has a long history. TV15 Production Manager and municipal photographer Joe Hibala recovered historical photos labeled “Pool Construction Spring 1978.”
Neither the Monroeville Historical Society nor the Monroeville Public Library had historical records for the pool. The property at 1100 Abers Creek Road was purchased by the municipality in June 1975, according to county real estate records.
The 10-acre property, which has an assessed value of $996,000, includes a regulation-size swimming pool with a diving board, concession stand, full bathhouse and a baby pool. Shaded basketball courts and two sand volleyball courts also are located on the property.
It is the only pool owned by the borough.
Paul Estok, program director for the Monroeville Recreation and Parks Department, said there are currently 62 pool memberships, which represent families and individuals. Residents and non-residents can attend the pool without a membership by paying general admission.
The pool is open daily from 12:30 to 7 p.m. through Aug. 18. Hours could change from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2 but those hours have not been determined.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .