The Gingrich Memorial Swimming Pool in Coleman Memorial Park may have seen its last season, if Lebanon City Council approves the demise of the aging structure at this coming Monday’s meeting.
At pre-council Thursday evening it was announced that Monday’s discussion will focus on the possibility of demolition of the pool to be replaced by alternate recreational purposes.
One potential option if Council decides to move forward on razing the pool would be a “splash pad” to be installed in approximately the same area where the pool is located, according to Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello.
While Capello said she wanted to save discussion for Monday’s meeting, she did say the condition of the pool is so bad it can be considered unsafe.
“It has deteriorated, due to the types of materials used to construct the pool in the 1930s and the age of the pool,” Capello said. “We do need to make a decision on the pool.”
No cost estimates to repair the pool were mentioned, although Capello said the costs have not been updated since Council last considered repairs on the pool about two years ago.
After vandalism at the pool one year ago, engineers went through the structure to check its stability and found chunks of concrete had fallen off the rebar.
Those findings were not a result of the vandalism but from the pool’s own deterioration, Capello said.
When repair was being considered as an option, those repairs didn’t include things like concrete coming off the rebar, Capello said. Instead, the repairs were more cosmetic and included upgrades, like a new filter system, she said.
“Repair costs have increased since that time,” Capello said. “In addition, we are one of the last remaining public pools in the county. There’s a reason for this; it’s a trend, and several other pools have closed as well.”
On Monday, Council will also hear a presentation from the Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association to install a bicycle playground at Coleman Memorial Park.
Monday night’s pre-council meeting heralded a new age as the meeting was live-streamed for the first time.
Live streaming council meetings will continue and can be seen on YouTube.
That media outlet was chosen because YouTube has closed captioning, Capello said.
“We’re working the bugs out,” said Council President Wayne Carey. “We have one of the most transparent meetings in the county and we want to make it more so.”
Social media has become a valuable tool for government, Capello said, adding that it’s a good way to get accurate information to citizens, quickly and efficiently.
“Today, people are more likely to voice a concern using social media,” Capello said. “This would also be useful in the event of an emergency to be able to contact more people.”
Funding to live-stream council meetings was approved and added to last year’s budget, at a minimal cost; only a few hundred dollars, Capello said.
In other business, council heard the final reading of the ordinance for the tax levy of the city for 2020.
Taxes will remain the same, with no increase in millage, at 4.581.
In another matter, the council failed to act on a resolution in support of a Citizens Commission for legislative and congressional redistricting, prompting an angry outburst from Council member Wiley Parker.
Council President Carey, after reading letters from State Rep. Frank Ryan (R-101) and State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102), who were not in favor of the resolution, said more research into the matter would be their next step.
But Parker said it was time for Council to make its own decisions.
“We’re not beholden to Frank Ryan and we’re not beholden to Russ Diamond,” Parker said. “You can look at the system in place in Pennsylvania now and say it stinks…the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandering is unconstitutional.”
Ryan had written to council, saying to change the redistricting. they would need an amendment, and added that an independent commission would violate the state Constitution.
Diamond wrote that the decision would be in the hands of the people who vote.
“That’s such irony,” said Dr. Duncan MacLean, a volunteer with Fair Districts PA. “Diamond’s idea that the checks and balances should be in the hands of the voters is ironic because we’re trying to stop gerrymandering and make the voting districts fair.”
MacLean, of South Lebanon Township, had presented the resolution to city council.
“Gerrymandering is illegal,” Parker said. “They (Ryan and Diamond) are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.”
Fair Districts PA is a spin off of the League of Women Voters, MacLean said, and is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer organization.
“We are not allied with any party; we advocate an independent citizens re-districting commission,” MacLean said. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tried to straighten it out and eight other states have decided on independent commissions for re-districting.”