Belleview pool effort leads to opening day

STEUBENVILLE – Financial constraints almost led the Belleview Pool to be closed, but the efforts of two volunteer groups, city officials and others have allowed it to reopen this summer.

And that combined effort was celebrated with a ribbon cutting Saturday, followed by free hot dogs provided by Mosti Funeral Homes.

“It was a joint effort. No one person could get this done,” said Asantewa Anyabwile, president of LaBelle Neighbors Who Care, a group of residents of the LaBelle neighborhood who she said didn’t want to see the end of a positive recreational outlet for the city’s children.

“We had three pools when I was growing up. Now we’re down to one, and they were going to close it. But we said ‘no,'” she said.

Anyabwile said the group’s concerns were shared by members of Community for Youth Development, another volunteer group; Councilman at large Kenny Davis and other city officials.

She said instead of just complaining, the three groups went to work to make it possible for the pool to open.

Davis said the Save Our Pool Committee was formed and is working to raise a $20,000 match required for a $20,000 grant from the Charles and Thelma Pugliese Foundation needed to operate the pool for this summer.

He noted the group faced good news and bad news: repainting the pool was covered by a warranty agreement with Grae-Con Construction, but the spiral slide was in such disrepair it would have to be closed for safety.

Davis said the group hopes to raise funds for its removal and eventual replacement. But with a new slide estimated around at least $200,000, it won’t be the first priority.

He said the committee will be planning fundraisers through the year to support the pool’s continued operation and maintenance and hopes ultimately to set up a trust fund.

For now the group is selling tickets for drawings for several prizes: a 2013 Ford Fusion from TEAM Automotive, a 50 inch flat screen television from Frank & Jerry’s Furniture and Appliance store and a gas grill from M&M True Value Hardware.

Tickets may be purchased at the pool, with the drawing to be held during the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce’s Stars and Stripes Concert and Festival on June 30.

Davis said the effort also has received a boost from Historic Fort Steuben and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Greek Festival, which each have donated $1,000; and other groups.

He noted $60,000 was budgeted for the pool’s operation last year, so the pool’s staff will be working under a very tight budget this summer.

That staff, which includes a dozen lifeguards, two cashiers and three supervisors, was recruited by the Community for Youth Development group, which plans to recruit teen volunteers to assist in the concession stand in exchange for work experience.

Pool patrons will be permitted to bring their own food until Monday, when the stand is set to open.

Though the pool is faced with financial constraints, the price of admission will remain relatively low, with adults paying $4, children and teens, $3; senior citizens, $2; and children 3 and under admitted free.

Anyabwile said pool passes also are available, with discounts available to households with low incomes. The passes are available at the pool only.

John Murray, a member of Community for Youth Development, said when CYD leader Todd Kelly approached him for assistance, he was happy to help.

“I came to Belleview Pool all the time – the old one and the new one. I brought my kids here, too,” he said.

Tiffany Stanley of Steubenville, who brought her children to the pool Saturday, said she’s happy to see it stay open “because there’s not much for kids to do in the summer. I think it keeps a lot of older kids out of trouble. You can never go wrong with positive activities.”

Mary Bonar of Steubenville agreed, saying, “I think it’s great. I came here when I was little and for the past few years I’ve been bringing my grandchildren. We come every year and almost every day. I think our whole block comes. And it does keep them out of trouble.”