Muncy pool struggles to remain open
MUNCY – The operating board of the Muncy Pool Association held a public meeting on Feb. 19 to discuss the future of the community pool and the challenges of keeping it open to the public.
David Houseknecht, board trustee and president led the discussion to a well attended crowd at the Muncy High School auditorium. “It’s a lot of work for 7 or 8 people,” he announced with a commitment of 12 to15 years for some of the board members. “We don’t have a lot of support,” said Houseknecht who has spent more than 15 years as a volunteer. “Although there is help on certain occasions,” he said, “many of us are tired. Can the pool coninue to operate?” he asked. “It needs time and money.”
There was a positive response from many, and an outcry to keep it open, especially for the upcoming year. Heather Diehl who spoke on behalf of the swim team, wants to maintain the program. With assistance from the Margaret Waldron Foundation, all children who live in Muncy School District are offered the opportunity to learn how to swim. Over 200 thousand dollars was raised through the foundation.
Houseknecht said operating costs are somewhere between 50 and 60 thousand per year including staff and supplies. Upgrades were made over the past six years to the complex that included a handicap lift. Replacement costs average between 5 and 6 thousand, mostly for filters. Another pool cover is needed, and now there is a leak according to Houseknecht. Annual costs are up to 8 and 10 thousand.
Board member and volunteer, Jamie Brelsford said the filters have a ten year life expectancy. “Last year we purchased 9 of the 18 filters,” he said. Some are 25 years old.
Membership is down and the dollars in the bank account keep going down. “We haven’t been able to recover them. We did what we can to keep people coming in the door,” Brelsford said and pleaded for more volunteers, especially with maintenance. “There’s not enough people to put forth those hours. Funds will need to be raised to pay people to take care of the pool.”
Some business sponsorships also were acquired. Board member Carol Rishel said she has contacted East Lycoming School board for funding and the Hughesville Rotary. “I have served on the board for 15 years.” More fundraising is needed to support staff, supplies, and equipment. More volunteers are needed for operations and maintenance. The board assured the community that the pool will remain open this coming season.
“I have been at that pool every day for two years, but I have never seen any of you,” said Deirdra Duff from the audience.
There was an overwhelming response from members in the audience, which held close to one hundred. A suggestion was made to form committees and send out flyers. Many raised their hands to volunteer and replied that they have never heard from anyone seeking help. Duff said she has offered several times as she lives very close to the pool, but no one ever got back to her. “I offered to help clean up too! My house is right in the back yard! I was there the last day it closed and asket to help.”
Some of the board members said they are ready to resign, and more than 20 from the audience offered their help. Hannah Peachey who also lives near the pool said she visits the pool almost every day with her children and offered to step in. “I want to get involved,” she replied and asked for a sign-up sheet to pass around for others who wish to volunteer.
Lisa Porman, head swim coach, suggested a partnership with the YMCA to possibly open and close blocks of time during the “biggest months” which are April, May and September.
Some said they would be willing to pay more for memberships if that would help to keep the pool open longer.
The majority present announced that they heard very little about the pool, or its dilemma, or from anyone working there. The community residents want to see more communication and by the end of the meeting, enough names were acquired to help with the following year. “We want to plan in advance. Most people here did not know about the pool thinking of closing,” said Peachey. “We are thankful for the pool as a resource for the community. This is the first we heard it s a struggle.”
“We’ll take your comments to heart,” said Houseknecht at the conclusion of the meeting.