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Marland Heights Pool faces an expensive future

June 21, 2012
By ANGELINA DICKSON - Special to the Herald-Star ( , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - After several months of investigations and an engineer's report, the Weirton Park Board learned on Wednesday that renovations to the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool at Marland Heights Park could be too costly.

Park board officials sought the help of Mark Viola to determine whether the structure was sound and what the costs would be to either make it a pool once again or skating facility that could be used in the summer and winter. Estimated costs to bring the facility up to code and restore it to a pool could cost up to $1.75 million and turning it into a skating rink is estimated at about $800,000.

Viola said he did a walk-through of the facility and found many structural issues that would need repaired. He said the structure can stand on its own but not as a functional facility.

Some of the things that would have to be done, according to Viola, are ADA-compliant restrooms and accessibility to the upper deck and the pool itself. He said the locker rooms and restroom facilities would have to be completely redone, which he said might not even be physically possible, and the upper deck would have to be repaired as well.

There were some additional safety concerns as Viola explained the park board would have to address the upper level by extending the wall a few inches higher to meet code standards and prevent any falls over the edge. He said the baby pool is dysfunctional and will not hold water, and the most structural damage is in the filter room.

"It's an attractive, unique structure that has stood the test of time, but there is nothing salvageable inside," he said.

Viola also said the park board should consider that having another pool would be duplicating services since the city already has a public pool - Starvaggi Memorial Pool - and a private pool with Lynnwood. He said turning it into a functional skating rink would be less expensive and easier to do, but a lot of the same repairs would have to be addressed.

Park board member Ed Bowman asked if it would be cheaper to demolish the building, keep the front entrance as a memorial and rebuild. Viola said it could be and his instincts are to say it would be less expensive. Bowman asked Viola if he would be able to come back to the park board with cost estimates on the demolition of the Marland Heights Pool. He said the board is not at the point of tearing it down, but he would be remiss if he didn't at least seek all options.

Even if there is a skating rink established at Marland Heights Park that is not a part of the pool facility, the board would continue to put money into a structure that is not being used, Bowman added.

"Sometimes you have to take a look at a project coldly to determine what the best course of action is," said Viola.

He added the board still would be putting money into the pool to keep it from deteriorating because, over time, the elements would continue to wear it down and eventually become a historical eyesore. He said another thing the board should consider is that once it does start to deteriorate, people could get hurt and the city could be sued. At that point, Viola said, someone with no heart in the structure at all could come in and demolish the building.

Park board officials plan to continue to seek information regarding the reuse of the facility before making a determination.

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