Johnstown weighs options for pool

JOHNSTOWN -The Greater Johnstown School District is weighing future options for the Johnstown High School pool.

The district’s architectural firm has drawn one possible capital project plan, which involves “repurposing” the pool into a two-story gym.

The high school pool has been repaired many times over the years.

Several members of the public spoke at the Board of Education’s last meeting June 12 about the pool. Some expressed a desire to keep the pool open amid speculation the district might shut it down.

For the immediate future, the pool will be used this summer. The school district is offering a free summer swim program for district youths at the JHS pool from July 7 to Aug. 8. The program will take place Monday through Friday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m.

District Director of Facilities and Operations Leo Loveless has dealt with repairs at the pool in recent years. On Wednesday, he was uncertain about future plans for the pool.

“Nobody’s really said,” Loveless stated. “I think they plan on keeping it open.”

But Loveless noted the district’s architect, CS?Arch of Albany, which is currently working on a major capital project for the district, has drawn up a possible proposal or scenario for the district to consider.

Loveless said the architect drew up plans in which the current JHS gym would be turned into a “wrestling only” gym. The pool would also be turned into a two-story gym for the high school, he said.

Board of Education President Paul VanDenburgh said Wednesday the district has only met with its architect once. He said it would be “very speculative” to think the district would repurpose the pool based on the initial architectural drawings.

“It’s very early to even jump to that thought process,” VanDenburgh said.

He said he appreciates the public’s “passion and comments” about the pool.

The JHS pool had at least one major water leak in October 2010 from a pool pump that resulted in several feet of water that had to be pumped out of the basement area near the pool. Subsequent problems shut the pool down until December of that year.

VanDenburgh said Wednesday he isn’t sure whether the pool actually needs repair at this time.

But he said the board would not be good fiscal stewards of the district’s budget if it continues to write a “blank check” for repairs of the pool.

The district is currently working with CS Arch on a possible major capital project to put before the voters in the fall.

The district is reviewing various health and safety issues involving future projects. The district does not yet know how much the total capital project would cost, but it is expected to be in the millions of dollars. Capital projects could be 90 percent to 95 percent funded by state aid.

Michael Anich can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.