Scranton will assess the defunct Nay Aug Park pool complex and trends in water recreation as the next steps toward a goal of reviving the facility, officials said — but it’s possible the pool will see no swimmers again in 2021.
The city issued public notices in The Times-Tribune on Dec. 15 and Dec. 22 requesting proposals for an engineering feasibility study of the pool facility.
The deadline for proposals is Jan. 6.
A feasibility study will include a technical evaluation of the complex and recommendations for improvements, as well as a detailed, current “users’ needs analysis.”
“Lifestyles and aquatic recreation opportunities and trends have changed radically over the last 20 years, with the advent of commercial water parks, large slides, wave pools, themed splash pads and elaborate spray structures. Examining current national trends, future industry projections and assessing local needs and demographics will be key components of a successful feasibility study,” according to the specifications for a study.
The city plans to seek grant funding from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for upgrading the pool facility, and a feasibility study is a requirement, said Bob Gattens, chairman of the Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority, which oversees Nay Aug Park, and Eileen Cipriani, the executive director of the city’s Office of Economic and Community Development, which administers grants.
“We want an engineer to take a look at the structure of the pool, the slide pool, to make sure that, before we invest money into it, it’s sound enough to do,” Gattens said.
The study will assess the deterioration of pool walls and stainless steel troughs, and the condition of the pump house and plumbing.
A key component of a feasibility study will include seeking public input, Cipriani said.
The complex last opened in summer 2019 with only one of its two pools operational.
The adult pool with a deep end and diving boards leaked so badly in 2018 — tens of thousands of gallons of water a day drained out — that the recreation authority fenced it off and kept it closed for 2019, and started looking at eventually filling it in and converting that space into a ground-level splash park.
The pool with the giant slides and an Olympic-style shallow pool, measuring 165 feet by 75 feet, opened in 2019 as usual. But halfway through the 2019 summer swim season, the slide pool’s 18-year-old liner leaked internally and ballooned up from the bottom in spots.
After the 2019 swim season ended, the authority tore out the old leaky liner and took steps to get a new liner installed. In early March, the authority lined up a company to do the work for $135,212. But the COVID-19 pandemic shelved the liner replacement and the pool did not reopen in summer 2020.
A splash pad replacing the adult pool remains a longer-term goal, Gattens said. Whether the slide pool could be repaired in time for summer 2021 remains to be seen. Required procedural steps leading up to repairing and replacing concrete and installing a new liner all will take time.
“I don’t know if we’re going to have a pool (open) next summer,” Gattens said. “I don’t see it happening” in time.
Fourteen entities sought the feasibility study specifications during the week after the Dec. 15 public notice, Cipriani said.
“The mayor (Paige Gebhardt Cognetti) is really committed to getting the pool open,” Cipriani said. “We want to try our best to get it open. That’s the point of the feasibility study, to find out what it needs and the cost.”
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