Chiavaroli releases statement on Naz pool closure for 2013

Following a new release that the Nazareth Swimming Pool will be closed for the entire 2013 season Nazareth Borough Council President Dan Chiavaroli released the following statement. In his statement, Chiavaroli cited the condition of the pool as the reason for the closure.  Although the borough sought and secured the funds necessary to replace the existing filtration system, the condition of the pool requires more work than planned. More details will be discussed at a May 2, 2013 Planning Meeting. The pool was scheduled to open on May 25, 2013 according to the Borough’s website.

 

“Nazareth Pool Closing Warrants A Detailed Explanation and a Capsulized History

 

” In 2004, then Borough Engineer Donald Keller told Council that replacing the Pool in the Park should be part of Council’s Long Term Plan. Keller cited potential structural failures with the aging walls, a variety of issues and inadequacies with the drains and skimmers and the fact that the Pool’s filtration system had lasted 20 years longer than its predicted life span and needed eventual replacement. Council listened and rightfully penciled, first filter replacement and then total pool rebuilding into its Long Range Plan. Keller’s analysis also included prices, timelines and alternatives that might prolong the Pool’s life. None of the options offered an easy, inexpensive, painless or popular solution for the aging crown jewel of our Park. A total rebuild of the Pool could see a two year period without the pleasures of summertime swimming, not to mention a price tag that could reach as much as two million dollars. Replacing the filtration system presented a clear alternative to upgrade the critical life blood of the Pool at a fraction of the price and if properly engineered, could be accomplished without sacrificing a summer season. Faced with a “pick your poison” scenario, Council dispatched the Borough Secretary to write any and all grants which might help with funding an undertaking of this magnitude. Good news came first in 2006 when a $53,000 Park grant was won which helped replace the filter shaft ($33,000) and mandated repairs to two of the stone bridges in the Park. One year later, a more comprehensive Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Grant request for a total Pool rebuild was denied and in 2008, a similar $60,000 grant request to fund a Pool Feasibility Study was also denied. In 2010, despite competing with seventeen other Northampton County applicants for very limited grant funding, the Borough’s request was accepted and $139,860 was designated for the Borough to finally replace its aging Pool Filtration System. Following engineering meetings with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission in January of 2011 and a presentation to Northampton County Council in April of that year, final approval was given for the grant money and the Borough was told it could proceed at its own pace, provided Northampton County was kept apprised of all decisions and the timing of the work. Engineering estimates told the Borough it would need a minimum of another $170,000 to complete the work and the money was earmarked in the 2012 Borough Operating Budget.

“A new engineering firm with a regional presence stretching as far as Wilkes Barre to the north, State College and even Canton, Ohio to the west and Bethlehem to our south had purchased the retiring Keller’s firm in May of 2011 and they were dispatched by Council to assess the Pool’s condition, needs and strengths if any and provide recommendations for utilization of the $139,860 grant and the designated $170,000 of additional funds to do what was best for the Pool. It would be the duty of their team of engineers to design a system or should it require, “spec” a filter system which would prolong the life of our Pool and would offer a safe, effective and timely install so that no time would be lost for the 2012,  2013 or beyond swimming seasons. Beginning in mid 2011, each monthly Engineer’s Report included progress on the Pool engineering and most monthly invoices from that month forward contained charges for the layout and design of the new filter system. Council remained confident that due diligence was occurring and that we would be receiving the best long term fix to our problem. Pressing demands for street repairs at Spring Brook Terrace made the Pool project an impossibility for 2012 and after Northampton County approval for delay of the work, plans continued for a Spring 2013 removal of the old system and an immediate installation of the new equipment. The Project was inserted into the Borough’s 2013 Operating Budget. Throughout the Fall of 2012, Public Works Superintendent Bob Reimer met repeatedly with engineers and layout specialists from our engineering firm and later meetings included conference calls and walk-throughs with Neptune Benson, the country’s premier provider of large scale pool filtration systems. Reimer, a master plumber and a veteran layout specialist with many major construction firms, repeatedly questioned engineering decisions and made Council aware of his disagreements with the firm’s Scranton – based engineer.

“In early January of 2013, the Borough Engineer presented Council with the system’s final price of approximately $264,000 and Reimer requested funding for a tow motor to assist with the install.  The $900 tow motor rental was approved as was the go-ahead for final ordering of the Filter System itself, all to the Engineer’s recommended specifications. A surety deposit of over $24,000 was sent along to Neptune Benson who promised a March 8, 2013 delivery of the system. The Borough’s Public Works crew removed the old system, salvaging nearly $3,000 from the scrap metal and the site was prepared for arrival of the new equipment, by this time delayed two weeks to March 21, 2013. Many from Council were at the Park to greet the arrival of the new filter. Reimer and his crew quickly set things in motion. Confident in his abilities to make things work but still skeptical of the engineering, Reimer and others from his crew began the work. Electrical components were purchased from Stokes Electric as per the Engineer’s specs. Fittings, joints and piping arrived as ordered from Bath Supply, again as per the Engineer’s specs. The Borough informed the Northampton County grant representative of the progress it was making and sent them invoice copies of the pool equipment it had received. Assurances arrived from the County that everything was in order and a request was made to schedule a County walk-through when the work had been completed in mid to late April. The Borough’s insurer was put on notice that a quarter million dollar pool filter system would be put on line in late April and to add it to the Borough’s insurance rolls.

“Doubts about the proposed layout grew at a rapid pace as Reimer and his crew hit one roadblock after another and calls to the engineering firm for solutions to their design recommendations grew tense. Within a week of receipt of the equipment, Council decided that an outside pool specialist consultant should quickly be brought in to sort out the problems. Wallover Architects of Lancaster, Pennsylvania responded quickly to the call and did its own assessment of  the pool’s condition, the layout prints for the install, the equipment purchased and the feasibility of everything meshing properly. Meetings with Council and lead Architect Ted Wallover on April 5, 2013 and later April 10, 2013 produced the grimmest of news imaginable and perhaps the worst possible outcome. Council President Dan Chiavaroli made the announcement of the pool closing minutes after hearing the definitive news on April 10, 2013. Council will evaluate the Borough’s alternatives following a more comprehensive report from Wallover Architects beginning with the May 2, 2013 Workshop Meeting.”

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Categories : Featured Stories, Local Government, Nazareth

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