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Dauphin pool's future
still remains uncertain

Story and Photos by Duane Good

The Dauphin-area community swimming pool  has been in operation since the mid-1960s.

While some community pools in the Sentinel's coverage area have struggled financially or ceased operations altogether, the pool serving Dauphin-area residents is facing a different challenge as the summer draws to a close.

In operation for half a century, the pool continues to draw good attendance while operating in the black. Even so, as reported in the newspaper earlier this year, 2015 could be the pool’s last to remain open to the public.

Upgrades, particularly the replacement of critical equipment that was first installed in the mid-1960s, have been estimated to run easily in the six-figure range, a cost that the pool's operators say they cannot afford without financial assistance in the form of loans or grants.

As autumn approaches, the pool’s board of directors continues to explore its options to ensure the pool can be repaired and remain viable into the 21st century.

The board earlier this year had approached the Dauphin-Middle Paxton Joint Park Authority about the pool coming under its ownership. Negotiations between the parties are ongoing at this time.

Incorporated as a private entity at its formation circa 1965, the pool does not have 503c non-profit status that would enable it to apply for particular grants, according to board Secretary Linda Klutas and pool Manager Dave Lutz.

Coming under the wing of an entity such as the rec authority would open more doors for grant opportunities; it also would enable the pool to save money on annual property taxes, they said.

In addition, the board is in the process of applying for aid through Dauphin County’s Gaming Grant program, which disperses the county's share of Hollywood Casino revenue to municipalities and other entities in various communities.

Klutas added that the office of state Sen. Rob Teplitz is investigating if other grants are available for the pool, even without 503c registration.

Whatever money the pool can qualify for would be helpful. In a recent interview, Klutas and Lutz confirmed that repairs to the pool are needed in crucial areas such as grating, piping and filters. A leak has been discovered that is draining the pool of a foot of water each day it is open.

Repairs to critical areas, along with upgrades to the children’s pool and other features (i.e. tables, umbrellas and appearance aspects), have been estimated to run as much as one million dollars.

A more basic renovation still would cost about half a million if done properly, according to the pool officials. In addition, upgrades would have to be compliant with the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act).

‘‘We’ve had a successful year in terms of membership, increasing from 169 to 224,’’ Lutz said. ‘‘Financially, we should end up with more money than last year, because of a good turnout of volunteers and watching every penny we spend.’’

But, he added, ‘‘The pool didn’t repair itself. We are facing a tremendous amount of problems.’’

Both Klutas and Lutz believe the Dauphin pool would be missed in the community if it is forced to close. Many local residents have used it since childhood, and now their own children – even grandchildren – enjoy it as well.

The facility also has served for many years as the home pool for the Dauphin Dolphins team of the Mid Penn Swim League and has been the site of MPSL divisional championship events.

‘‘People always like coming to this pool. We have the parking, and we have the space,’’ Klutas said. ‘‘We are seeing younger families with younger children here.’’

‘‘Research tells us that drawing and keeping the younger families is the key for us, long term,’’ Lutz noted. ‘‘They want something to do for their kids.’’ we would love to see a bigger facility for the kids.’’

‘‘Maybe there could be a mini splash park for the little people,’’ Klutas stated.

‘‘Whatever the community wants, we would work toward that,’’ said Lutz.

Still, the board realizes that such changes will require more money than the association can generate in yearly profit.

Depending on how negotiations with the park authority turn out, and whether other financial help could be obtained, the board may organize a capital campaign to directly ask the public for funds.

As Klutas put it, ‘‘We are looking at drafting a letter to 'save the pool.’ we don't want to give up, even if other avenues aren't available to us. We need to do what we can.’’


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