HALIFAX, Pa. (WHTM) — The Halifax Community Pool has seen better days. In fact, it has been nearly two years since it last had water in it.
“It was very sad to drive by here,” said Emily Hoffman, a member of the Halifax Area Recreation Authority, “to drive by the pool and see it empty in the middle of the summer.”
Following the 2014 season, Hoffman says HARA was forced to close the pool it owns due to financial reasons. It remained closed and empty for the entire 2015 season. Bearing a sign above the front door dated 1967, the pool has been home to a youth swimming club and offered general recreational swimming, lessons and aqua aerobics to the community.
“When we closed the pool, we remained open to the idea that we might be able to lease it to someone for one dollar,” Hoffman added. “It would be contingent on their ability to involve volunteers and raise money.”
After more than a year, somebody finally took HARA up on the offer. Halifax Swim Club, Inc., a non-profit group made up of members of the pool’s previously housed swim club, is now working overtime to get the pool back up and running.
“Right now, our hope is that we can open by July 2nd weekend,” says Jenn Miller, president of Halifax Swim Club, Inc., “but we do have to pass some inspections. We do need some upfront money.”
On Monday evening, Miller and a small group of volunteers were busy vacuuming debris from the bottom of the pool, power washing the changing rooms, painting, caulking and cleaning old umbrellas. The rehabilitation is expected to continue daily for the next several weeks.
“The tiles around the pool, while they’re there for aesthetic purposes, they serve no function, they’re falling off and they’re bowing and cracking,” Miller explained. “We need to repair all of those so that it is not a safety issue.”
Miller says the entire effort was nearly dead in the water when an initial inspection determined the main pump system was failing. A volunteer spent eight hours repairing it at no charge, and “now it is purring like a kitten.”
While several years of club fundraising has raised enough money to get the rehabilitation work started, more dollars are needed to ensure the reopening of the community pool is long-term. Several local businesses and individuals have made small donations and a large donation was recently made by Lake Tobias Wildlife Park.
Miller says the group is still short of raising its general operating budget of $32,000 and still needs about $5,000-$10,000 to be comfortable.
“A lot of people don’t realize how expensive it is to operate a pool,” she said. “Lifeguards, just for the eight week period we plan to be open for this year, will cost around $11,000.”
Chemicals, electricity and insurance will cost thousands more, Miller says. The group is also seeking volunteers to help perform work and donations of maintenance supplies. Miller says while her club is happy to work for the greater good of the community, she hopes others will join them.
Upon opening of the pool, season passes will be offered to the public and the facility will be made available for private functions such as birthday parties.
“I can’t tell you how important it is for a kid to learn how to swim,” she added, “and this pool can offer that opportunity, so I think it’s huge.”