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Centre Region Council of Governments
Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority
2643 Gateway Drive #1, State College, PA 16801       
(814) 231-3071        Fax 814.235.7832                                  E-Mail: crpr@crcog.net
Serving the Borough of State College and the Townships of College, Ferguson, Harris & Patton


SUMMARY OF MEETING
with Project Advisory Committee &
Welch Pool Swim Team Parents

FOR THE WM. L. WELCH COMMUNITY SWIMMING POOL
MASTER SITE PLAN
3:00 PM, Tuesday, 24 Jul 07
held in the COG Forum Room

          Mr. Todd Roth, CRPR Aquatics Supervisor, welcomed everyone to the Public Meeting for the Welch Swimming Pool Master Site Plan. He presented a slide show about the pools and the operations. The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority owns and operates both outdoor pools; the five municipalities (State College Borough, and the Townships of College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton) provide part of the funding. The slides reviewed the history of the pool, the operation figures from 2006, and the goals of this project. He indicated that an Project Advisory Committee had been formed (for both pool renewals) that includes CRRA members, a School District representative, Welch Pool Swim Team parents, Park Forest Swim Team parents, and student swimmers. He also told the group that the Master Site Plan process would be funded by a $33,000 grant from the state and $33,000 from the municipalities. The consultants retained by the Authority are Alan Popovich, HP Architects (Boalsburg), the lead on the project; Scot Hunsaker, Counsilman-Hunsaker Associates, (St. Louis, MO). HP Architects has also retained ELA (State College) for landscape architecture and Reese Engineering will provide engineering services.

          Mr. Roth then introduced Scot Hunsaker who presented a slide show about the firm, reviewed photos of other municipal pools that they had designed and outlined how aquatics has changed since Welch Pool was built. He asked those present to think about how the Welch pool was being used today and how it could be used in the future. He asked people to dream about what features they would like to have at Welch Pool. He noted that there are two differences between what the competitive swimmer needs and what the wellness group would like: warmth of water (colder for competition) and depth of water (shallower for wellness programs).

Following his presentation, the meeting was opened for discussion and ideas:

1)       Bernie Ryan asked if Mr. Hunsaker saw trends based on geographical areas since pools in this area can only be open three months of the year. Mr. Hunsaker replied that even in areas where the weather would allow a pool to stay open longer, they still close because the population is back to school, eliminating the patrons and the lifeguards. He also indicated that some states in the center of the country (Ohio, Iowa, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, etc.) are more aggressive in using more water park features while the northeast and far west are usually combined with school districts and are just starting to go with the trends. It seems that it depends on how the population views the role of government. What is important is the expectation of services! What are people expecting out of their local pool?

2)       Vivian Baumer - How much space do we have? Do we have restriction in terms of money? Mr. Roth explained the area that is available (a survey map was available to view). He indicated that the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority (CRRA) now has a 25 year lease for the property from SCASD that includes provisions for parking off the leased site but on the same side of Westerly Parkway as the pool. Mr. Popovich indicated that parking is not completely pinned down but we do have it included in the lease. Ms. Karen Foard asked what was the start date of the lease; Mr. Roth stated it was January 2007. Mr. Roth indicated that the cap on the funding would be determined by the elected officials. Mr. Hunsaker related they take all the ideas collected from the community, make up several options with several price tags, then it is presented to the elected officials and in another community meeting. If someone wants to know why a certain feature was not included in the plans, we can point to the feature saying we looked at it and this is how much it costs. The elected officials then decide what they want to finance. Mr. Popovich indicated we should focus on programs and then see how much they would cost.

3)       Cory Miller asked the committee to recognize that this area lost six lap lanes when the Athletic Club closed. He stated that we should have at least as many lap lanes as we do now and add six more. He also would like to push for a 50 meter pool that would allow a lot of swim meets. He thinks the top priority should be enough swim lanes.

4)       Sue Rogacs asked if the pool was definitely going in the same location. The answer was that yes, the pool was being planned to be in the same location. She said that the people from the Athletic Club who swam laps have gone to the YMCA so they can swim year round. She indicated that we need a few more lanes but she would like to see a large recreational area at the pool.

5)       Karen Foard said she would split the difference: Bellefonte YMCA and SPRA have eight lanes. She said that when they were having meetings on the Park Forest Pool renewal last year, they looked at PF Pool as a neighborhood pool and looked to the Welch renewal to bring in something new and exciting because Welch has more people and more space. Big fun, more parking, the size of the lot makes Welch more regional. Since it right by the High School, it would be the place to attract older kids. Her children like to go to Welch if they want to have fun with the slide, if they just want to hang out with their friends, they go to Park Forest..

6)       Mary Baumer, a swim team coach and Welch swimmer for several years. They invited the Park Forest swim team over to Welch for a fun time and the water slide. Scot asked what is the upper age group she thought would use the slide. She indicated the popularity has dropped off because there are amusement slides near here, but the older kids still like to come to Welch because it is bigger, more people, and more parking. She thought that the 50 meter pool would be a waste because it would be too much for the young swim team members - and not feasible for Welch Pool. A yard and a meter short course pool would be ideal (sample shown on screen). If you looking for quiet less crowded, you go to Park Forest Pool. Now, if kids want get big slides and more thrills go to the commercial water parks.

7)       Vivian Baumer thinks the new pool should have lanes available for lap swimming. Question: would you have people lap swimming all day? Yes, it would be great to have lanes available all day. Mr. Ryan agreed that lap lanes were really important; he swims at the University and they are always full. Scot indicated, for those not passionate about lap swimming, that they observed the six lane pool at lap time and each lane was full. However, when you asked adults how many swimmers you can put in a six lane pool, they say five. Mr. Hunsaker stated that it is important to know the difference between needs and wants so that the finished project is a quality family aquatics center that is affordable and will be also for the future. Mr. Roth asked if it was correct that when you talk about lap swimming, it isn’t a matter of how many lanes but that lanes are available all day. Mr. Ryan agreed if a number of lanes could be available that would be great. Mary Baumer indicated that would be good because right now some people cannot swim laps because the lap hours don’t fit the swimmers schedule.

 8)       Karen Foard was concerned that when you have a lap swimming lane right beside where the young swim team is practicing, you lose half of the pool and have condensed the amount of space for those young swimmers to get out. Her 13 year old her son loved the slide, but at 15, he hasn’t been there.

 9)       Sue Rogacs would like to see more pool, more grass area and more shade

10)     Vivian Baumer would like something beyond water that would attract 15-18 year olds. She would rather have them doing something healthy outside than watching TV or playing computer games. Mary Baumer, a college student, agreed.

11)     Cathy DeFour wondered about the cost to participants especially with the added amenities. Mr. Hunsaker indicated that the goal when they did the Park Forest Pool was affordability and sustainability and the same would hold for Welch Pool. Mr. Roth related that a statewide survey indicated that CRRA season pass fees were comparatively low.

12)     Lori Paterno thinks of Welch as a neighborhood pool, although it does have people coming from the outlining area. She would not like to see the pool get too big for the local population. Scot related that the site would probably keep it from being a destination pool, but it can be a great community pool.

13)     Cindy Solic would like a variety of activities which includes something for the older youth but it needs to be separate from the family/young children activities. She visited a facility recently in North Carolina (outdoor) that cost either $9 or $10 admittance fee and had many of the features shown on the screen. There were a choices for the patron, and it was spread out over a lot of open space with many amenities but you could see everyone. Ms. Solic would like to see zero depth entry. She thinks a variety of activities would be good even if some of the items had to be phased in.

14)     Eric Topp would like to see a competition pool, but agrees with most of what was said. He would also like to see 50 meter pool, but it is really more lanes that are needed. He thinks yard measurement for pools is good. He would be interested in “What do we look like; who are we serving; who do we want to serve?” He also thinks it should be affordable. He wondered what the process would be after gathering information from this meeting today, the one tonight, and other suggests that would come in. How will it be prioritized? Scot related that at Park Forest we documented all the input from meetings and the community, then developed several options using that information, brought it back to the community and the elected officials for review and comment. The elected officials tweaked it, and then choose the option they wanted to support. That is the same process that will be followed for Welch. Ms. Solic reminded everyone that when the option came back to the elected officials they did not select the least expensive, but the one they felt right for the community.

15)     Karen Foard liked when they actually had a concept on paper to look at for Park Forest because until then it was hard to visualize what was being suggested.

16)     Bernie Ryan hopes that we compliment Park Forest at Welch. He also wondered if Scot’s company had ever done a study about getting young kids interested in the water at young age (whether it be slides or other features) so that the continue as they get older? If you get them comfortable in the water does it lead to them going into swimming as a sport?

Scot indicated that it depended on what your idea of success was. Mr Ryan said that he didn’t mean they had to be an Olympic swimmer but competitive in their area.. Scot said the goal could be “use,” or it could be “everyone is a swimmer.” He named some places were their goal was “everyone is a swimmer.” They send every child to swim lessons during school time. Scot is saying that they are seeing a trend in teenagers going from hanging out at the malls to going to recreational aquatic centers.

17)     Rick Madore said to have amenities would require more water space. He suggested we could have a 50 meter pool that had so many lanes and then the rest of the amenities could be in the other sections, but have it convertible so it could be changed. Also push fence to the limit. He also suggested that the water level be raised about two feet (complex level) to keep the pool from getting flooded.

18)     McKenzie Madore said that an issue will be affordability. If it gets too expensive, swimmers will instead visit the free swim sites like state parks. The current swim schedule is not good for someone with small children. It doesn’t allow time for small children’s nap time. If it opened earlier, there would be more families with small children that would attend.

19)     (?) One of the best things about Welch pool is that it is bright and sunny; one of the worst things about Welch pool is that it is bright and sunny. She would like to see more shade (umbrellas, etc.).

20)     (?) Would food be allowed in a new facility? Or a concession stand? That discussion was held for Park Forest Pool as to whether they would have a concession stand but it was not cost effective. There, the decision was to not have a concession stand. There was no discussion about not being able to bring in food.

21)     (?) Likes the pavilion at Park Forest Pool. Would rather not have a concession stand, just the machines. She would like to have a pavilion at Welch where families could bring in food making it more affordable. Scot indicated the lack of staff control if they cannot tell what food is coming in.

22)     (?) liked the idea of 50 meter pool but have amenities that could be portable and that would turn into lanes. Water sports.

Attendees were encouraged to email or call to add anything they had forgotten. Mr. Hunsaker indicated they would take all the information that they have gathered and work up several options. The consultants will be back in September with these options. Those meetings will be Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, 2007.

Return to Welch Pool Renewal Update Page

The CRPR Authority is a publicly-funded, municipal agency serving 5 municipalities. The Authority also maintains 501c3 status.
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The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority
2643 Gateway Drive #1 , State College, PA. USA 16801   (814)231-3071   Fax 814.235.7832