Mt. Lebanon Swim Center upgrade may cost $3.3 million

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The 36-year-old Mt. Lebanon Swim Center will receive a major upgrade.

Design consultants presented conceptual plans before Monday's commission meeting, discussing potential improvements scheduled to occur by the time the pool opens for the 2014 season.

Commissioners voted in November on a $4.8 million bond issue for recreational improvements, with up to $3.3 million for the swim center. Work is to start after Labor Day.

David Donnellan, municipal recreation director, said a 2007 feasibility study determined that a new "family aquatic center" would cost between $7 million and $10 million. The following year, municipal officials decided to renovate the existing center to save money while preserving many of its features, including the pool's popular 50-meter swimming lanes.

Improvements will include upgrading the infrastructure, overhauling the bathhouse and adding a variety of amenities.

"Residents made it clear they wanted to see a more modern facility," Mr. Donnellan said.

The municipality hired EPM Architecture of Bradford Woods as design consultant for the overall swim center and Wade Associates of Harrisburg for the pool. Both companies have decades of experience working with aquatic facilities.

Commissioners eventually will decide on a final design. In the meantime, the consulting firms have developed a series of ideas for upgrades, including:

• A heating system for the pool water.

• Improved access from the parking area to the swim center, providing separate access for pedestrians and vehicles.

• "Beach-type" entry to the pool, so that no one has to climb steps or ladders.

• Amenities such as water slides and a climbing wall within the pool.

• A "spray pool" with no standing water.

• Improvements throughout the center to meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

• Family changing rooms and separate shower stalls in the bathhouse.

• A new configuration for the entryway to improve the efficiency of the patron admission process and to update its appearance, including replacing the existing chain-link fence.

• New filtration system.

• Reconfigured snack bar area for better efficiency.

• A spectator area near the pool.

Mr. Donnellan said the architects' plans for the swim center will be available on the municipal website for public perusal.

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch asked for specifics about heating the pool.

Wayne Wade, owner of Wade Associates, said he does not recommend solar covers, which require labor to remove and install each day. Maintaining a "reasonable temperature" of 70 to 80 degrees should be cost effective, he noted.

"The real plus of heating is early in the season," said Mr. Wade, explaining that warmer water is likely to help boost attendance.

EPM owner Mark Edelman said the designs as presented are oriented toward meeting the maximum $3.3 million budget for the project.


Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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