Why do we need a new outdoor aquatic facility?
The existing all-aluminum swimming pool is 30 years old. Because of regular maintenance, it has already exceeded its expected lifespan. Chemical reactions over the year have created deterioration of the metal surfaces and the sub-surface has shifted creating large bubbles that need to be repaired. Annual maintenance, performed before the pool is filled is becoming increasingly complicated and expensive. And a major fissure in a seam in mid-season, which would require draining the pool, could occur at any time.

The existing pool was built when competitive pools were state of the art. Today, the trend is toward family aquatic centers that have warmer water, make entry easier for beginning swimmers and offer entertaining water features in addition to providing for lap swimming and competition A newer, more modern aquatic facility should increase attendance and revenues, helping to make the facility more self supporting.

What is the planning process for a new outdoor aquatic center?
The municipality has hired a nationally recognized aquatic facility consultant, Counsilman-Hunsaker, to help guide us through the process. A feasibility study is under way, and the consultants will hold several public meetings in September and October to help inform residents of new aquatic trends and to determine what amenities residents would like to see in a new facility. The consultants also will meet with various groups who use the pool to find out how a new facility might best accommodate their needs.

Once all of the information is compiled, the consultants will develop several options for consideration and discussion. In addition they will provide cost estimates for construction as well as operation of an aquatic center. The municipal staff and the Mt. Lebanon Commission will then consider the conclusions from the feasibility study. Cost of the feasibility study is $38,000.

How can  I share my ideas for the facility with municipal staff and officials?
You can attend the meeting consultants have scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 6, at the Rec Center. You can speak up at commission meeting, held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month at 8 p.m. in the municipal building. You can talk with your commissioner (contact information is available at http://www.mtlebanon.org. You can email officials at aquaticcenter@mtlebanon.org. Or you can check out the municipal Web log, http://www.leboaquaticcenter.com. Updated information will appear regularly on the Web site, the blog and in Mt. Lebanon magazine.

How much will a new aquatic facility cost? How would it be funded?
The municipality’s 5-year capital plan includes $5 million for a family aquatic center, but the actual projected cost will result from the feasibility study. A bond issue combined with grants and a fund-raising campaign would likely fund the center. Selling the naming rights might be considered.

If we decide to build the center, when would construction begin?
It is possible that if everything moves quickly and residents support the project that construction could begin as early as August 2007. More than likely, construction would begin construction in August 2008. The most cost-efficient and least disruptive approach would be to begin construction at the close of one swim season and open a new center the following summer.

I don’t use the existing outdoor swimming pool. What’s in this for me?
We hope that a new facility—one with warmer water that would be conducive to offering more varied programming—would attract people who have not previously used the swimming pool. If nothing more, a new outdoor aquatic facility should help to set our community apart from others, thus allowing us to continue to compete for new residents with other premier suburbs and ultimately increasing property values for all Mt. Lebanon residents.

What’s the difference between an aquatic center and a waterpark?
An aquatic center can be any sort of facility that suits the needs of its residents, ranging from a basic swim center to a swim center with a pool, sundeck, bathhouse and snack bar, to a swim center that offers all of that plus entertainment features typically found in privately operated waterparks such as Sandcastle. Although the “bells and whistles” bring in revenue, as Mt. Lebanon’s current water slide proves, they are expensive. It is likely that Mt. Lebanon’s proposed aquatic center would include some features designed to make a day at the pool fun (and thus providing more revenue). But the aquatic center would still be a swimming destination, offering opportunities for lessons, lap swimming, water play and sun bathing. If public input shows a great desire for waterpark-type features such as a lazy river, water slides, etc., it is possible some private funding would be sought.

Why not let private enterprise build and operate an aquatic center?
Municipal swimming pools have long been part of the fabric of a premier community’s leisure activities. Mt. Lebanon has operated an outdoor pool since the early 1930’s—most people who live here expect to have a reasonably priced place to swim.

Most swimming pools in our region that are open to the public receive funding from a local government. Our climate, governmental regulations, insurance and changing leisure patterns have made it difficult for a swimming pool to be profitable, thus the need for government to help provide this public service. The exception to the rule are facilities such as Sandcastle that offer a variety of exciting water attractions, drawing participants from larger geographical areas who are willing to pay higher admission prices than a municipally operated facility would typically charge.

With a goal of becoming more profitable, some municipal operations have now “borrowed” ideas from the private sector and are developing smaller waterpark-style facilities that fit within the financial constraints of their local park and recreation budgets. Of course, the goal of the public sector is to meet residents’ recreational demands without creating a tax burden.


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. elizabeth  |  September 16, 2006 at 9:07 am

    Personally, i would really like waterslides!


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