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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
With Greensburg's Veterans Memorial Pool and Ligonier Beach both shuttered for the summer, some water lovers may have to go a little farther for quick dip in a cool pool.
Those swimmers' quandary may be temporary, but they're not alone.
More than 2,000 commercial pools — including 65 Pennsylvania public pools, club pools and privately owned pools that were open to the public — have closed since 2009 according to Mick Nelson. Nelson is facilities development director for Swimming USA, a national service organization that promotes the sport. He has tracked the sad demise.
In Western Pennsylvania, the roster of local pool closings dating to the 1970s includes the massive Oakford Park Pool in Jeannette, Blue Spruce in Murrysville, Kennywood's Sunlite Pool, the Beau Clair Swim Club in Penn Township, New Kensington's Crystal Springs and the Melwood Park Pool in Allegheny Township.
Maintenance, insurance and the escalating cost of chemicals are among the challenges that have contributed to the wave of pool closings in small towns and large cities alike.
"Some of them closed because they could not upgrade and retrofit to meet the new drain laws mandated by the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (a 2008 law regulating drains and covers to reduce accidental drownings); others have deteriorated and would require massive, expensive renovations. More have closed, however, because they have been running at a deficit for many years and city and school officials have decided they can no longer afford to pay the operating costs," Nelson said.
In Greensburg, local officials opted to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations at Veterans Memorial Pool, a 7,000-square-foot pool that attracts about 150 swimmers a day during the summer.
Swimmers left high and dry this summer by that decision can trek to Youngwood to cool off in the pool at the community park there.
For fans of Ligonier Beach, the closest option may be six miles up the highway at Idlewild Park's Soak Zone. The complex, which includes a wave pool, slides, Lazy River and children's attractions, kicked off the summer season Friday.
Although a day pass, good throughout the park and the pool complex is $37.99, season passes are available at $59.99.
"I think we'll probably take in a few of them from Ligonier Beach," Idlewild Marketing Manager Jeff Croushore said.
Ed Christofano, president of the board of the Youngwood Park & Pool said the pool is prepared to absorb an influx of new swimmers this year as it gears up for a June 3 opening for its 58th season.
While the Greensburg pool, a city facility, is scheduled to reopen next year after undergoing repairs, it's unclear when or if Ligonier Beach, the enormous 93-year-old pool along Route 30 just east of Ligonier, will reopen.
Pool owners Sherry and Steve Kozar could not be reached for comment. But a family member said a flood this year that destroyed the facility's pumps and furnace added up to excessive repair costs for the 50,000-square-foot pool.
The local landmark dates to 1925 and was among the few remaining large outdoor pools from a period considered the heyday of such pools.
Nelson said the cost of repairing pools built before 1970 can be daunting.
"Many times a new pool can be built for the same price as an old pool renovation," he said.
Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.
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