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Where We Live: Will Lansford pool ever reopen?

Published November 10. 2018 06:22AM

For the past three summers, the Lansford Municipal Swimming Pool has been closed. It’s a certainty the pool will not be open again for the summer of 2019.

Will the pool ever reopen?

One study done by the borough stated the pool needs a complete overhaul.

“It’s outlived its life,” said consultant Randy Galiotto of Wade Associates.

The pool is the only public swimming facility in the Panther Valley. The closest pool is in Tamaqua, 8 miles away.

To fix the pool so it is usable again will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lehighton was in the same predicament a number of years ago when its municipal pool closed because of leaks and needed repairs. It cost more than $800,000 to get the Lehighton pool up and running again in 2009 after it was closed for three years.

How did Lehighton do it?

First, the bulk of the money came from a matching government grant of $350,000 thanks to the influence then-state Rep. Keith McCall had in Harrisburg. Of course, that meant the borough had to pony up a lot of funds, which Lansford borough would unlikely be capable of providing.

Also, an organization called Pool Pals was formed. It was headed by Mark Hoffman, an energetic swimming enthusiast who coordinated the citizenry drive to raise the rest of the money needed to bring the pool back to usable status. The Pool Pals raised well over $100,000 through dances, sales at festivals, benefit sporting events and old-fashioned fund drives.

Not only was the pool repaired, but more accessories were installed.

State grants are much less accessible today than they were in 2008, when Lehighton received its funding.

Even if a grant is received, Lansford Borough Council likely wouldn’t be able to match the amount needed for the repairs.

An organization called Friends of Lansford Pool was formed in 2016 to raise money to have the pool fixed, but it hasn’t had the success yet that Pool Pals has had.

There’s another situation brewing. Former borough council member Rose Mary Cannon said she heard rumors that a private concern is interested in purchasing the pool, filling it in and building a strip mall on the site.

She approached Lansford Borough Council in October, and although no specifics were mentioned, she said, “I’m 100 percent against selling our beautiful borough pool.”

Council President Jared Soto, when asked about the potential of the pool being sold for a strip mall, said he heard rumors but nothing has formally been presented to Lansford Borough Council.

In the past, a few borough council members have indicated they aren’t willing to invest borough funds into the reopening of the pool, although no formal poll was ever taken.

Still, the longer the pool sits idle, the more difficult it will be to reopen it.

The borough has had meetings about the pool, but the main element in saving it is state government funding. Unless the borough gets a grant like Lehighton did in 2008, an incredible asset of the borough will disappear forever.

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