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By: Brendan McDonough
Reporter for North Tonawanda
The start of summer about a month away but the fate of North Tonawanda’s Memorial Pool is on the minds of many local residents. At issue is if it should be replaced, repaired or eliminated altogether.
This past Tuesday night members of the Common Council heard from an Ohio based consulting company hired to conduct a feasibility study on the pool. Nancy Nozik, an architect with for a firm that specializes in the construction of municipal pools, presented her findings.
According to Nozik the cost to replace the 70-year-old pool could top an excess of $6 million. She says what’s needed to make the pool successful is a lazy river, splash pads, a space to do laps in the pool, and, most of all, a concession stand to feed people and keep them at the pool.
“With concessions people would be staying at the pool a lot longer,” said Nozik. “It’s totally flexible if you want to serve hot dogs and hamburgers or just have snacks.”
Of paramount concern to city lawmakers are operating expenses. According to financial reocrds, operating the pool is costly for the City. They currently make about $20,000 a year profit but are spending $90,000 a year to operate it. This means that the city is spending anywhere from $70,000 – $75,000 of taxpayer money to subsidize pool operating expenses.
“We feel that the community is currently being underserved,” said Nozik. “The real issue is that about 48,000 people should be able to go and use the pool, but currently only about 13,000 are. That is one of the metrics that leads us to believe that there is a need in the community for the pool.”
She says to repair the current problems, rather than building a band new pool, the cost to the City would be about $2.5 million. Part of the problem with the current pool, she says, is a lack of deck space, necessary repairs needed in the bathrooms, and that there is zero shade on the deck for people who want to enjoy the pool.
But even with repairing the pool, Nozik says the City could still be losing up to $75,000 a year to operate the pool.
For many people the pool is a social hub and City Accountant Amanda Reimer says she is currently looking into applying for state grant money to save the pool.
If the City decides to move forward with construction, the next step in the process is for the City to draft a final report and decide which elements should be included.