The United Way's six-year mission to restore the swimming pool at Cascade Park apparently is over.

New Castle City Council on Thursday unanimously denied a 24-month extension on a lease agreement with the agency to develop the pool, which has been closed for 20 years.

"Gayle Young is a friend of mine, but I've always told her that I don't agree with the pool," said Councilwoman MaryAnne Gavrile. "I think the liability, maintenance, security and just the cost of a pool is just out of this city's realm."

The city and United Way of Lawrence County entered into an initial 24-month lease agreement in May 2014 in order to rehabilitate the pool and related facilities. United Way was to pay the city $1 for the duration of the initial lease.

In December 2015, the council approved a 24-month extension. In December 2018, the council approved a 17-month extension to expire on May 31, 2020.

In a memorandum dated June 18, 2020, Kala Matthews, the city's legal assistant, states that Young, executive director of United Way, recently contacted the office about extending the lease agreement to June 30, 2022.

When the topic arose at the council's caucus meeting last week, all of the council members voiced their opposition to the extension and to the project as a whole.

"Right now, not unless Gayle walks in here with a huge check that someone's finally going to finish the project, I'm a no vote," Councilman Tim Fulkerson said.

Fulkerson, who shut down the pool when he was mayor in 2000 and sat on city council when the first lease agreement was approved, said he was doubtful from the beginning.

"They have done work out there. I'm not going to deny that, and they got a great group of volunteers, but without money, nothing happens," Fulkerson said. "I don't see the money coming in to support this."

Fulkerson suggested backfilling the pool due to liability issues.

Young said Monday that she wanted to speak with Mayor Chris Frye before talking to The News.

Grants have been available, Gavrile said, for other water-related play areas.

"We could have had splash ponds in every neighborhood," Gavrile said.

Fulkerson and Councilman Pat Cioppa agreed they liked the splash pond idea.


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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