West Chester eyes repairs to closed pool after a decade
By JEREMY GERRARD
Wednesday, September 26,2012
Efforts have started to repair the public pool at the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center in West Chester. The pool has been closed for 10 years. Courtesy photo.
WEST CHESTER – With each summer feeling hotter than the last, an effort to reopen the public pool at the Charles A Melton Arts and Education Center is under way, 10 years after it was closed.
According to center Fund-raising Chairman Mark Stevens, the borough is the only suburban Philadelphia county seat without a public pool.
“It’s a travesty,” Stevens said.
With a goal of opening the pool in time for the summer of 2013, Stevens said supporters hope the facility, located in the 500 block of East Miner Street, will provide the community with another activity and give children a place to exercise.
The center raised $12,500 in 2010 with the help of the community and board of directors to complete a community pool renovation feasibility study. This money was matched by a grant from the state.
In partnership with the West Chester Business Improvement District, the center sent out a request for proposal in 2011 to complete the study. When the bids were in, Friday’s Architects of Philadelphia was selected to design the upgrades.
In the study, it was recommended the pool and recreation areas at the center be renovated, including a new pool house, refreshment area, enlarged outdoor basketball courts and bleachers for the courts. Total costs for the proposed renovations are estimated at $1.6 million. Fund-raising for the project has already begun, though Stevens said they first want to get the pool into working order before doing any broader renovations.
Construction on the borough community center began in 1934 and was renamed after Charles A. Melton in 2004. Melton served as director of the center from 1966 to 1980 and is remembered for his contributions to the Civil Rights movement and improving race relations in the borough.
As an initial step toward the pool project, the center announced it has accepted the offer of volunteer maintenance support from West Chester’s Elam Pools.
Lisa Dorsey, chairwoman of the center’s board of directors, thanked Tom Elam and General Manager Kyle Elam for the help, commending their efforts and calling their willingness to lead invaluable. Over the past several weekends, the company has donated equipment to the center and aided in the pool area cleanup. Knox Rentals of West Chester has also donated to the project.
Operating as a family business since 1976, Tom Elam said the company got involved to provide more options for the children in town.
“Hopefully it will keep some kids off the street and out of trouble during the day,” Elam said.
Mostly donating their knowledge and expertise in the area of pools, Tom Elam said the company is excited to be working with the current board, which is taking the center in the right direction and improving the community.
Stevens echoed Elam and lauded the efforts the board has made to improve the center, citing its current youth enrichment programs and a new commercial grade kitchen.
“There are a lot of success stories but we are nowhere near where we need to be. We should be busy 24-7,” Stevens said.
For more information or to find out how to get involved, contact Mark Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.