Public pool discussion continues in Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — City officials are weighing their options when it comes to the aging swimming facilities at Lambert Park.

Executive Director of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board Steve Catlett has told the city they plan to keep the pool open for public swimming this year by patching the liner and making some small fixes, but working to repair the 44-year-old facilities beyond this summer will cost north of $150,000.

It’s an investment the Parks and Rec Board does not recommend making, according to a letter Board President Roger Engle wrote to Martinsburg Mayor George Karos.

“Our recommendation is that they do not replace that pool with another in ground pool, but that they consider replacing it with an above ground spray park area.”

Catlett said it would be a new attraction not currently found in Berkeley County and keep a leisure activity in that part of the city.

The letter also recommended adding a deluxe playground and pavilion to Lambert as part of the spray park.

Catlett said that would save money in the long run.

“We can operate it at a whole lot less expensive than an in ground pool and so we might be in a position that we could keep it open beyond Labor Day until the end of September,” Catlett said.

He said staffing makes that impossible for a traditional pool.

Lambert is one of two public swimming facilities in Martinsburg.

The War Memorial Park facility typically breaks even or makes a little extra money each summer through admissions, but that’s not the case at Lambert.

The Parks and Rec Board considered closing the pool there for public swimming until the city council intervened and offered a subsidy to keep it open.

Catlett said that’s still happening.

“They’re going to subsidize the operation of Lambert for $25,000 again this summer so we can keep Lambert open for public hours.”

Weeks of the swim season were lost last summer due to a series of leaks at War Memorial’s main pool that necessitated significant repairs.

Those costs were also offset by funds from the city.

“The city came up with an additional $50,000 to add to our budget this past year to help offset that tremendous amount of expenses we had.”

Repairs there included digging up the bottom of the main lap pool to replacing old pipes.

Catlett said it should last another 10 years but has no confidence Lambert can make it beyond the 2018 season.

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