BELLEFONTE — The Center County Board of Commissioners is supporting the rehabilitation of Bellefonte’s Kepler Swimming Pool.
At Tuesday’s meeting of commissioners, the BOC approved a letter of support for the Nittany Valley Joint Recreation Authority’s request to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to rebuild the Kepler Pool.
Ray Stolinas, Center County Community Planning and Development Manager, spoke about the importance of the Kepler Pool.
“Local parks and recreation facilities are so important to residents of Center County and the Nittany Valley, so we wanted to address these issues through the letter,” said Stolinas.
The Kepler Pool, which opened in 1971, began to collapse several years ago. Last year, the pool sat vacant as patchwork repairs and dressings finally gave way. Major renovations and repairs are needed if the pool is to survive.
Commissioner Steve Dershem spoke about the importance of the Kepler Pool to the community of Bellefonte.
“I don’t know if many people realize that the Kepler swimming pool was built around 1970. It has been a staple of the Bellefonte community for about fifty years,” said Derchem. “It really takes a lot of work. The standard it was built to and the standards that prevail today are a galaxy apart. They really need a lot of help.
According to Dershem, the letter of support is only one piece of the puzzle.
“This is part of it. But it will really take a community effort to complete the project. He’s going to need the support of the local government, he’s going to need the support of the citizens and the people who care about our children’s hobbies. It really is the only pool available in a multi-canton borough. It’s an incredibly important project. I hope the community will support him in so many different ways,” said Derchem.
According to President Michael Pipe, the BOC will not provide any funding. However, he will support the project in any way possible, including the aforementioned letter of support.
“We wouldn’t offer any funding, we would just say we support it, it’s in line with the overall plan…but no money from our side,” said Pipe.
Cindy Kunes of Walker Township spoke on behalf of the Nittany Valley Joint Recreation Authority.
“We have previously been successful in receiving a pre-COVID DCNR grant. We had all of our municipal support online and the total amount of this grant was approximately $667,000. COVID hit, prices went up, various other transactions took place and by the time we got the bid requests and bids back…bids were coming in at $1.8m, $2m…really much more than what we had, Kunes explained.
Now, she said, the NVJRC must “gathering again.”
“We have applied for a second round of funding via the DCNR. We have very, very high hopes that this will happen. We are also trying to identify other sources of funding and apply other methods as well,” Kunes said.
She thanked the Commissioners for their letter of support.
“Fingers crossed,” Kunes said.
A pool redesign project revealed last summer showed a six-lane competition pool, a spiral sliding board, a diving board, a climbing wall (deep end of the pool), a paddling pool with fountains, a shaded area with lounge chairs at the end of the parent’s paddling pool, a toy stingray and a toy lobster. In addition, the two swimming pools will have no access ramp.
Center County commissioners will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 12. The meeting is open to the public and will also be televised live by C-NET.