Pool plan unveiled; Council voting Monday on less expensive facility that would open for summer of 2012; skateboard park to be re-located

By on April 11, 2011

With original plans for an all new water complex to replace the current Ephrata Community Pool all but sunk, the community services committee of Ephrata Borough Council Monday night floated a new watered down" plan before the full council. Rather than calling for the complete demolition and reconstruction of the facility, the new plans call for renovating and retrofitting the existing one. Katie Perloski of Wade Associates was on hand to present the new plans to council. Those plans call for the elimination of the kiddie pool in favor of a zero-depth entrance with walled off areas for very small children and children over the age of 5. Walls inside the pool would also partition the children’s area from the deeper end of the pool. Plans call for part of the lower competition pool to be filled in, reducing it from 50 meters to 25. Several age appropriate water features would be added and much effort has been made to make the entire facility, from pool entrances to the bathhouses, ADA compliant. A new entrance area would feature a new ticket booth and manager s office, and additional handicapped parking in closer proximity to the entrance. The project would also include a new pumphouse, where all pumps and equipment would be centrally located. Other portions of the current complex will be retrofitted and updated. The snack bar area would be completely renovated. The borough plans to outsource the operation of the snack bar, while installing basic services, ventilation and fire suppression equipment, but with the vendor supplying the necessary equipment to operate it. When completed, the snack bar would be accessible to those both inside as well as outside the pool complex. There would also be additional seating located in proximity to the snack bar. The exiting bathhouse would be renovated to bring it into ADA compliance, but would utilize the current fixtures and dividers. A new mansard roof would be added to improve building appearance. Plans, however, call for the skate park currently located on the lower level behind the building to be relocated to Irene Avenue, and that portion of the building s roof to be removed. This would help accommodate the area as a delivery staging area for pool chemicals as well as the snack bar. New fencing, pavilion area, playground and volleyball court are also included in the plans. But perhaps the most favorable feature of the proposed plan is the new price tag of $2M, which is down sharply from the over $4M proposed for the previous project. The intention of the presentation is to get council concurrence on what the project will consist of for council approval on moving forward, said acting borough manager Bob Thompson. We are on target to begin construction after the pool closes on Labor Day, with re-opening on schedule for swimming season 2012.

Council member Robert Good questioned Thompson about whether this new project would require the borough to pay the prevailing wage for labor. Thompson confirmed that due to the scope and cost of the project, that prevailing wage laws would apply. For a purely maintenance project it might not have to be bid, said Thompson. But anything over $25,000, must follow the Davis Bacon Act for bidding and the prevailing wage. But this project is of such significance that the prevailing wage would be necessary.

Community Services Chair Tom Reinhold added that with the bidding climate being more favorable due to the on-going economic downturn, there was some hope the borough might enjoy better wage rates as a result. There was also some debate about the wisdom in making the competition pool smaller. Plans submitted by Wade Associates would reduce that pool from 50M to 25M. Perloski said the plan would mean between $20,000 and $25,000 in savings compared to renovating the complete pool in its current configuration. However, as David Lloyd, director of the Ephrata Recreation Center pointed out, the pool hosts only one event per year where the full 50 meters is utilized. Ephrata s pool is the only outdoor 50M pool in the area. Lloyd also pointed out that a smaller pool would cost less to fill, treat and maintain. He agreed that the one pool event per year which uses the full 50M, might have a $25,000 to $30,000 impact on local business used by those coming to the event. But he added that in all, the borough only nets about $2,500. In the end, council will need to weigh the cost versus the benefit of the Wade plan. Not to play Devil s Advocate, said Andy Kuzmiak, who has long been a vocal participant in the pool debate, but since it is there, why not keep it there? It just does not make sense to take away something that s there when it could be made good use of.

Later, Kuzmiak added that he was disappointed more time was not allowed between Monday night s unveiling and next week s vote to approve the plan. Mayor Ralph Mowen weighed in on the new plans. When the original plans came in over $4M, I was adamantly opposed, said Mowen. This new plan meets the needs of the resident and gives us a facility we can all be proud of. I would like to see the 50-meter pool remain, but won’t jump up and down about it. The sooner we can put this out to bid the better, because contractors are hungry for work. We might even see that $2M come down a bit.

A vote to approve the plans will be taken at next week s regular session of council. Just prior to Monday night s working session, council held a public hearing to consider changing the wording in zoning code. The proposed amendment changes,among other things, the permitted use corporate office" to offices" within the neighborhood commercial-2 district. The initial purpose of the amendment was to change corporate office" in the Neighborhood Commercial-2 zoning district to offices, explained Thompson. This change would allow more flexibility in finding tenants for the Mansion. Then it was decided to change office to offices in other zoning districts to be consistent with the initial change.

The proposed wording changes brings the borough code current. It was also made necessary as work begins to renovate the Ephrata Mountain Springs Mansion House located at the corner of Main Street and Spring Garden Street. When renovations are complete, professional offices are planned for the building. An additional office building is still under consideration on another part of the former Mountain Springs property, yet have been indefinitely shelved. The zoning district that this change is proposed for is the Neighborhood commercial-2 district. The Borough only has one such district and it is the site of the former Mountain Springs Hotel, explained Thompson. The original intent from the outset was to allow offices however when the Neighborhood Commercial-2 district was established, the definition of corporate offices was used instead of offices. Corporate offices is more restrictive. The developer was prepared to renovate the mansion into offices when it was determined that the existing permitted use of corporate offices did not permit such. More POOL PLAN, page A18

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