Group formed to save Fountain Hill pool holds first meeting

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Mike Zovko outlined the needs of the Fountain Hill Citizens’ Ad Hoc Committee during an hour-long meeting held Thursday in the council chambers of Fountain Hill Borough Hall. About fifteen people attended the organizational meeting, which clarified the opportunities and challenges related to safeguarding the Borough’s swimming pool. A second meeting is in preparation.

A group of borough residents who hope to reopen the Fountain Hill pool by raising money to pay for repairs to it gathered for the first time Thursday evening at the borough hall.

Due to rising maintenance costs and a short-term repair estimate in the tens of thousands of dollars, a majority of Fountain Hill City Council members voted to permanently close the 63 pool. years earlier this spring.

Difficulty finding lifeguards and other seasonal workers to operate the facility was another challenge cited by borough officials, who had previously surveyed residents about the pool and held a special meeting to discuss options under consideration.

It wasn’t until the council voted in March to close the pool that there was a public outcry and an effort to save it – led by borough resident Mike Zovko – began.

A former Fountain Hill lifeguard and councilman, Zovko distributed a petition signed by residents opposing the decision. The support he has shown has helped convince the current council to offer pro-pool residents a temporary ‘respite’, he said, noting that the council had agreed to postpone any final decision for a year. regarding the swimming pool.

The pool will remain closed this summer, which means Fountain Hill residents who want to swim will have to go to the municipal pools in Bethlehem, Hellertown or beyond.

To find the funding needed to make the pool financially viable again, Zovko suggested at the meeting that grantmakers and researchers would be needed immediately.

The last time the pool underwent a major renovation was probably in the early 1990s, and the repairs it now needs include “lots of cement work”, he said.

According to Zovko’s PowerPoint presentation, the ad hoc committee’s other immediate needs include legal advice, particularly for setting up a 501(c)3 nonprofit; web design and social media expertise; people with construction experience; a place to hold future meetings; and, of course, volunteers.

In an outline of what he proposed for the group’s mission, Zovko suggested that the issues the borough is currently facing with regards to the pool are a symptom of a declining sense of community in Fountain Hill, which is home to about 5,000 people.

Fountain Hill Pool

The Fountain Hill Pool, pictured above during summer 2021, will remain closed this summer. Last year, a shortage of lifeguards limited how long the pool was open to the public. A newly formed citizens’ group whose goal is to prevent the pool from closing permanently says it will work to find solutions for future staffing issues and funds for repairs. (FILE PHOTO)

Long a symbol of civic pride for Hillers, the pool is one of the few amenities owned by the borough, and its loss would be a blow to what remains of that community spirit.

His possible resurrection is one component of a vision Zovko has outlined for strengthening community ties within the borough, which he says could expand beyond the borders of Fountain Hill into neighboring township of east of Salisbury.

In addition to saving the pool, Zovko said he would like to develop a community center; something he said was discussed years ago, when a vacant lot next door was considered.

The plans related to the community center fall under several long-term goals outlined by Zovko.

In the short term, the group will focus on finding the funds needed to restore the pool – estimated at at least $80,000 to $100,000 – as well as its staffing needs.

If the pool is to be saved, “we need to get the grant money as soon as possible,” Zovko said.

He suggested that several committees be formed to help achieve the goals of the group, including committees for fundraising and grants, programming, communications and membership, finance and administration, planning and consultation.

Several meeting participants said they were concerned about how information about Thursday’s meeting was communicated and indicated that a lack of communication on matters of importance is a significant issue for many residents of rounding; especially those who do not have access to or choose not to use the internet or social media.

Zovko said 1,000 flyers announcing the meeting were printed and distributed throughout the borough, and details about it were posted in Facebook groups on Fountain Hill.

About 15 people attended the meeting.

Among them, two young mothers said that although they have not been involved in Borough affairs in the past, they plan to try to recruit other residents in their age range to volunteer at the within the committee.

Another resident who said he had lived in the borough for decades expressed skepticism about the vision Zovko described and said the pool was a victim of the borough’s financial situation, which he attributed in part to the number of HUD households in the community.

Participants were asked to provide Zovko with their email address and phone number for future updates on meetings of the Fountain Hill Citizens’ Committee, which is the group’s working name. To be added to the list, email him at [email protected]

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