WEIRTON - After consulting with architects on what can be done to utilize the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool on Marland Heights, Park Board officials voted Wednesday to demolish the structure and build a new recreational facility from scratch.
During the June Park Board meeting, board member Ed Bowman asked if it would be cheaper to demolish the building, keep the front entrance as a memorial and rebuild and asked architect Mark Viola to come back to the Park Board with an estimated cost.
After several months of investigations, an engineer's report indicated renovations to the pool could cost anywhere between $800,000 to upgrade the structure to an ice skating rink and $1.75 million to restore it as a pool.
Park Board Director Terry Weigel said Viola's report indicated the cost would be $55,000 to $75,000 to demolish the structure and about $250,000 to construct a new facility and that's exactly what the park board unanimously voted to do on Wednesday.
Viola's initial report indicated the board would still be putting money into the pool to keep it from deteriorating because, over time, the elements would continue to wear it down and it would 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 entire building.
Some of the things that would have needed 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.
Bowman said the Park Board members are the sole decision makers and not everyone will like their decision, but when faced with the costs associated with restoring the pool or leaving it be, the demolition and construction would be the most cost efficient.
In addition, he said the new facility would draw from the entire city by not duplicating services provided by the Starvaggi Memorial Pool and the private Lynnwood Pool.
"It would help diversify the activities the city can offer which it currently doesn't have," he said. "We think we are doing the right thing in the best interest of the city and now we need to do it."
While the Park Board plans to establish an ice skating rink, board member Mike Adams pointed out that it would be made of synthetic ice which means the facility could be used all year long.
Bowman said the next step would be to lay out the entire project to include design and final costs. He said the board should first get the plans in place and then seek the funding to do so.
Board member Doug Finton said he believes the best course of action to take would be to phase the project and complete the demolition and prepare the ground for the new structure. He said once that is complete, the board should seek additional funding to build.
"We've spent many years talking about what should be done with the pool and nothing has happened," Finton said. "It's time to move forward."
(Dickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)