Bellefonte re-pledges $140,000 toward pool
By EMMA GOSALVEZ
BELLEFONTE — The future of Kepler Pool is looking brighter.
During their Monday night meeting, members of Bellefonte Borough Council voted 7 to 1 to maintain a previous commitment of $140,000 toward rehabilitating the Governors Park pool. Voting “no” was Council-man Evan Duffey; Council-woman Renee Brown was absent from the meeting.
“I would really like to see the pool continue,” said Councilman Michael Prendergast, who made the motion to maintain the $140,000 commitment.
Last September, Bellefonte Borough and Benner, Spring and Walker townships were each asked for financial support to rehabilitate the 46-year-old pool. The Nittany Valley Joint Recreation Authority asked each to commit a predetermined share, which was based on each municipality’s population size from the 2010 census.
To help save the pool, NVJRA is relying on funds from the municipalities for a $300,000 grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which has an April 2018 deadline.
On Dec. 18 of last year, Nittany Valley Joint Rec-reation Authority chairman Mike Bonchack came before the council to request the earlier commitment remain, despite the lack of commitment on the part of Walker Township. Last October, Bellefonte Borough council voted to support the pool through a share of $140,000, which would be spread out over a period of five years.
The resolution had a stipulation — that the borough would commit to that amount if the other three municipalities paid their fair share. In addition, the shares asked of each municipality had decreased since due to a re-evaluation of needs, with Bellefonte’s new share to be $84,600.
According to Bonchack, Walker Township refused to commit its fair share because its supervisors were unhappy with the share being based on population size versus attendance size and felt the amount asked of them was too high.
Without Walker’s commitment and if Bellefonte had gone with the lower share, the funding gap needed to repair the pool would have been $60,600. With Bellefonte maintaining its original commitment, the amount still needed is $5,200. Bonchack previously said that community fundraising through a capital campaign could help close the gap, but he is unsure of how much could be raised in time for the grant deadline.
After discussion among council members in December, it was agreed to hold a vote in early February on whether to keep or reduce the original commitment, without the original stipulation.
During the discussion on whether to maintain the original commitment, Duffey expressed concern over Bellefonte paying more than its fair share and covering part of the other municipalities’ fair shares. Prendergast said council does not have the luxury of waiting to see if any of the other municipalities will increase their shares, as NVJRA wants to get the grant application in as soon as possible.
Other members said they did not want to see the pool close either, and without the grant, the pool would have to close in the near future. Bonchack said in the December meeting that the pool could continue to operate through 2018 but its future beyond was highly uncertain due to the high level of repairs and rehabilitation.