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Organizers of historic pool restoration ask for support of school board

October 23, 2012
Morning Journal News

NEW CUMBERLAND-Organizers of an effort to restore and reopen a historic pool in Weirton are asking for the support of the Hancock County school board.

Kathy Kolanko of the Marland Heights Community Association took her case to the school board Monday night, requesting that it draft a letter in support of a grant application.

The association formed recently as part of a community effort to save the 78-year-old Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool from demolition. The pool, dedicated in 1934, is an architecturally distinctive structure designed by civil engineer Wesley Bintz, and it's one of only a few of its kind remaining, Kolanko said. Closed in 2004, the pool is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We want to preserve it-not just because it's a beautiful piece of architecture but because it's a benefit to the community," Kolanko said.

The circular, above-ground pool was slated for demolition by the city of Weirton, but the community association convinced the Weirton Parks and Recreation Board to put a "stay of execution" on the demolition earlier this month, Kolanko said.

The city had determined that the cost of renovating the pool and making it handicapped accessible was prohibitive, with estimates ranging from $800,000 to $1.75 million, she said. But Kolanko told the board Monday that the pool is structurally sound and salvageable.

The association is applying to the State Historic Preservation Office for a $30,000 grant to study the feasibility of reopening the pool, heating the water and making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Kolanko said the community association ultimately wants to lease the pool from the city and operate it for public use. Marland Heights Park, where the pool is located, is still used by the community. An Oktoberfest fundraiser will be held there from 1-7 p.m. Saturday.

Kolanko told the school board its letter of support would be part of the grant application, which is due Oct. 31. Board members asked questions but took no action on the matter.

Also Monday, Superintendent Suzan Smith used the board meeting as an opportunity to appeal to the public to be attentive to school buses. This week is National School Bus Safety Week.

Smith cited an accident in Nicholas County last week in which an 8-year-old girl's leg was broken. The girl apparently was hit by a motorist who failed to stop for a school bus whose lights were flashing, Smith said.

"When those lights are flashing on those buses, please stop and give a little bit of time for the kids to get on or off," Smith said. "There's nothing more precious than those kids."

Failing to stop for a school bus is a misdemeanor in West Virginia, while failing to stop and causing an injury accident is a felony, she said.



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