New Castle News


September 18, 2013

Our Opinion: Volunteers step up with initiative to revive Cascade Park pool

NEW CASTLE — It has been 13 years since anyone splashed around the Cascade Park swimming pool.

Or did the dog paddle or the backstroke. During that time, the empty pool has been little more than a receptacle for leaves and debris.

But last week, a group of volunteers waged a targeted campaign to revive the pool. While their work is far from complete, they took a big step forward in the effort to restore this facet of New Castle’s most celebrated park.

The effort was led by the United Way of Lawrence County, which made the pool the focal point of this year’s Day of Caring. Volunteers not only tackled the grunt work of cleaning and painting, professionals from Penn Power and Servedio Electric agreed to remove the pool’s pump, so that its condition can be assessed and to make any necessary repairs.

The story of Cascade Park’s pool is reflective of the city in general. Its closure was part of major changes at the park, which was once a regional amusement complex with rides, food and large crowds.

But those crowds were lured away by larger, more elaborate entertainment parks. Facilities such as Cascade suffered everywhere.

And it didn’t help that these changes occurred in the midst of an economic upheaval that forever changed western Pennsylvania’s industrial base and hit cities such as New Castle hard.

Simply put, holding on to Cascade Park as some people might want was beyond the city’s financial capacity.

That included the pool, closed when the costs of maintenance and upkeep couldn’t be justified in the budget. It was a move that stuck in more than a few craws, because a public pool tends to serve lower-income residents who can’t afford one in their backyards.

Recognizing that the city — operating in fiscally distressed status — couldn’t revamp the Cascade Park pool on its own, officials from the United Way and assorted volunteers from service organizations and the business community now have stepped forward with a new commitment to bring back the pool.

But they face assorted challenges. Running a public pool is an expensive proposition, not only in terms of getting it back into proper working order, but also maintaining it on a regular basis. There is also the no-small-matter of staffing it and providing liability coverage that’s essential for this type of facility.

And while the work of volunteers — even those with technical skills — is a big plus, money will be needed for this project, now and into the future. We encourage the community to respond positively.

Much of that will depend on the game plan that’s devised to make the pool initiative work, both on the part of the city and community organizations. It will take a substantial commitment to restore this asset for New Castle.

We wish the pool advocates well in this ambitious endeavor.

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