Monroeville Council delayed a vote that would put the municipality’s public pool up for sale, giving a committee time to get answers for concerned residents.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) has said it will purchase Monroeville Community Pool along Abers Creek Road for $956,000 when pool season ends in September. Council delayed voting on that deal in June, allowing a municipal committee time to meet with the PTC and other private pools in Monroeville.
“The committee’s going to do some leg work here over the next several weeks and start to get some more answers,” said Mayor Nick Gresock during a July 9 council meeting.
Council met in executive session after residents voiced concerns about the sale and pool closure for about 45 minutes.
Gresock said the committee includes himself, Manager Tim Little and council members Ron Harvey and Eric Poach.
“We are going to meet with the private swim clubs … we’re going to reach out to the turnpike, as well, during the process and also to … all other interested parties at that time,” he said.
Residents applauded when council voted to remove the ordinance from the agenda.
Harvey said part of the talks with Monroeville’s four private pools will be to determine if their owners are willing to allow the general public to attend on a per diem basis – a perk that currently only exists at Monroeville Community Pool.
“Should (Monroeville Community Pool) sell, and it brings in money, we might be prepared to give grant money out to pools that allow general membership,” Harvey said. “It might be an offer like that.”
Harvey said council’s action to remove the resolution from its agenda does not mean it has rejected PTC’s offer, but there is still an expiration date on its proposal.
“If this goes past the first of the year, the turnpike won’t give as much money (for the property). On January 1, the land has to get reappraised,” Harvey said.
PTC spokeswoman Renee Colborn confirmed.
“(If council hasn’t acted by Jan. 1, 2020), yes, we will have to update our appraisal. We don’t know for sure how our offer would change; however, it’s not likely to go up,” she said, adding the turnpike is willing to honor the current appraisal for $956,000 until the end of this year.
When asked if the sale of the pool could be postponed for a year, as some residents have suggested at council meetings, Colborn said, technically, yes.
“We have stated that we do not need the property right now and will wait to acquire it until right-of-way acquisition for the project begins,” she said. “When that happens we will reappraise the property and make a new offer.”
But if council acts before Jan. 1, the property would be slated for demolition, Colborn said.
“That process takes a little bit of time, but we would certainly make it a priority. It won’t sit vacant as a pool for years,” she said.
Harvey said the committee will also seek clarity from PTC after hearing several differing pieces of information from residents.
“We got to stop all the hearsay – where one person talked to this guy, one person talked to the flagman, and someone else … I want to hear from the horse’s mouth, you know? We’re going to find out what’s fact from the turnpike and what’s not fact,” he said.
The deal, as outlined in Monroeville’s ordinance that was removed from council’s agenda, also includes the turnpike’s purchasing of items on the pool’s property for $62,000 and an easement for construction of a trail that would give access to the Westmoreland Heritage Trail.