COMMUNITY POOLS may be on the verge of extinction in Eastern Ohio.
Bellaire appears to have started a disturbing trend when the All-American Town closed the gates on its municipal pool several years ago. The pool was subsequently filled in and developed into a softball field.
Softball is booming in Eastern Ohio, so another field is a nice option. However, Bellaire residents longing to take a summer dip have suffered ever since.
Now the two largest communities in Belmont County may also be headed for a similar fate.
St. Clairsville is home to a picturesque and popular pool. However, Allen Pool and the rest of Memorial Park may fall victim to voter apathy. Should a .25-mill levy supporting the park fail on the May 7 ballot, the park and pool will be shut down in quick fashion.
Martins Ferry, meanwhile, will open its pool June 1. How many more summers that happens is up for discussion.
Financial issues hound the Purple pool. Donations are needed from the public and private sector to help purchase chemicals to get the facility operational.
The city administration has been quite helpful with paying recreation department bills, but can only do so much. Thus, generosity is key to the pool's future.
The financial woes are compounded by the physical condition of the pool. The gutter system is in sad shape. A new pool is truly needed but such a scenario is also cost prohibitive. Thus, the pool's long-term viability is shrouded in doubt.
If the worst case scenario plays out, Bellaire, Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville will all be without swimming pools. That would truly be unfortunate.
Those communities should use Shadyside as a shining example on what a pool means to a community.
The pool in Tiger Town was resurrected two summers ago through tremendous commitment and dedication from the village's government and residents. Money had to be anted up and sacrifices made. Shadyside residents answered the challenges.
Now it is a thriving summer recreation venue.
It is too late to save the Bellaire pool. It is dead and buried.
Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville residents have an opportunity to provide life preservers to vital recreational sites.