Renovations that began last week at Washington Park Pool are just part of an estimated $2.5 million in park projects expected this summer.
The work is the culmination of several years of planning, grant writing, as well as cooperation among the city, East Washington Borough and Washington & Jefferson College with assistance by state representatives to obtain funding for the improvements.
This month, City Council adopted the multimunicipal recreation comprehensive plan on the heels of its updated comprehensive plan that was adopted in early 2012. Mackin Engineering of Pittsburgh served as consultants for both.
Having both plans in place, explained Lynn Galluze, the city’s computer services director, allowed the city to be in a good position to obtain funding.
Improvements include two phases of renovation at the pool for $750,000; $1.5 million to help alleviate flooding from Catfish Creek and creation of a $250,000 recycling drop-off area.
Work has begun on concrete repair at the pool. Also planned are new bathhouse doors, new handicapped-accessible lifts, updates to the pool mechanical system and fence repairs. A safety fence will be installed between the main and children’s pools and a new pavilion built. The new pavilion, which will provide a shady area at the pool, also will have a grill and other utilities allowing it to be rented for special events.
In fall, after the pool closes for the season, there are plans to paint the pool, do additional upgrades to the bathroom and make a number of changes to the entrance, office and concession stand.
Funds for the work are coming from a Local Share Allotment of $400,000 with an additional $350,000 from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project.
The most expensive project at the park is dredging a pond near the pool. The pond is so filled in with dirt and silt that few recognize it as a place where people once fished.
Galluze said 17,000 cubic feet of dirt will be dredged from the pond. That dirt will be used inside the park to level out an area for a dog park and also to extend parking at the Pinto field.
The pond needs to be dredged to help retain storm water now running into Catfish Creek and creating flooding downstream. The work is being funded by $800,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers and an additional $250,000 from the state’s Growing Greener II program.
The third project is creation of a recycling drop-off area at the public works garage for tree limbs, branches and large twigs. The 100-by-100-foot, fenced-in area will feature a chipper and truck to process material, which will then be used by the city and East Washington Borough.
Burning is not allowed within city limits, explained Councilman Terry L. Faust, so the recycling area will be a place where people can drop off branches to be chipped and those chips used to maintain walking and running trails within the park.
Rich Cleveland, the city’s grant writer, Galluze, and state representatives all assisted in obtaining grants. Faust noted that some of the funding requests date to when Barry Stout was state senator and Tim Solobay, state representative.
Since 2010, the city has been awarded more than $10.9 million in grants. The largest was in 2010 when $6 million for the Route 19 corridor was received.
“In 2010, for every dollar the city spent it made $31 in grant money, which is phenomenal,” Galluze said.
Under Faust’s leadership, City Council created a capital improvement fund, from where its annual Local Share Allocation is drawn for capital projects.
Another city project that is fully funded is the third phase of the downtown revitalization project slated to get under way in 2014. The $1.2 million project will continue the streetscape from the train station on South Main Street to the intersection with Park Avenue and feature trees, sidewalks, new lighting and traffic signal.