Park’s pool house in need of repair

EAST LIVERPOOL – For the second time in its 70-year lifespan, the Burchfield Cartwright Municipal Pool in Thompson Park is looking at a major overhaul, with the local Rotary Club hoping to raise at least $100,000 for the project.

The pool opened in about 1934 after being constructed as part of a Works Progress Administration project during the Depression, according to park board President Burl Warrick.

It provided summer fun for generations of area residents until the 1990s when it fell into disrepair and city officials were considering abandoning the pool, Warrick said.

At that point, park board member Burchfield Cartwright got the idea of sending park Superintendent Cecil Grimes to a seminar about securing grants, after which a $100,000 grant was obtained to repair the pool.

Cartwright then spoke with Maria Parfitt about starting the Dolphin Swim Team as a way to generate more interest in the pool, which was a success, Warrick said.

During the administration of Mayor James Scafide, the pool was named in honor of Cartwright and still bears his name today, but is no longer operated by the park board, but by the city, which has budgeted very little for its operation.

In recent years, Mayor Jim Swoger, along with his wife Amy, has taken upon the pool as his own pet project, often spending from his own pocket to make sure it opens each summer for the community to enjoy.

Swoger has been fond of saying the pool is the equivalent of Cedar Point for many city children who cannot afford such luxuries as out of town vacations.

This year, however, Swoger approached the East Liverpool Rotary for help, sending a letter and asking if it could consider an $8,000 donation toward needed repairs to the larger-than-Olympic-sized facility.

Responding to Swoger’s plea, the Rotary Club decided to make the pool’s total renovation its major 2014-2015 project, aiming to raise the estimated $100,000 needed to repair the pool and deck.

If possible, the organization would like to raise enough to also refurbish the pool house, which has also seen better days, according to member Jeff Cartwright Smith, the son-in-law of Burchfield Cartwright.

“We hope with a very, very aggressive fund raising effort, we can renovate the pool, and if we can be very lucky in soliciting donations we can also do updates to the pool building,” Smith said.

Calling the pool “a major jewel in the crown of the city,” Smith said the Rotary feels the city needs the pool for entertaining its children in the summer and that having a clean, supervised pool is important.

While repairing the pool and deck are the major elements of the project, Smith said the Rotary also wants to provide guests with a clean, safe and warm environment in which to change their clothing, saying many of the shower heads in the pool house currently have no nozzles, and other ones have no faucets, so it is hoped funding can be raised for that additional part of the renovation.

A “major constituency” for the pool is the Dolphin Swim Club, according to Smith, who said the Rotary wants to be sure it continues to host sporting events at the facility.

Currently, committees are forming to move forward with the project, including one to engage the community, which Smith said is important to its success.

“It’s as important for the community to help support the pool as any financial goal,” he pointed out, saying another committee will focus on seeking contributions from individual donors while another will seek corporate donations, grants and foundation dollars.

“We’re hoping there will be foundations that will smile upon East Liverpool,” Smith said.

He pointed to a recent nationwide contest sponsored by Coca-Cola that attracted tens of thousands of votes from around the country for Thompson Park, saying it is Rotary’s hope the same sort of interest can be generated to raise funds for this project.

Smith said plans call for holding a number of events to stimulate contributions toward the fund raising effort, emphasizing, “With every penny going directly toward the pool.”

The entire membership of the Rotary group is involved in the two-year project, and Smith said the plan is to begin construction in the spring of 2015 with completion in time to open for the summer with an “almost-brand-new” pool.

Until fund raising events are scheduled, those interested in making donations can do so by calling Smith at 330-385-2843.

City Council also recently lent its vote of confidence by approving legislation in support of the project at its May 5 meeting.