WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The town of West Seneca is diving deeper into the condition of the town pool. The pool sat closed all summer due to the national lifeguard shortage, but a group of residents is still trying to save it from closing forever.
Tensions ran high at times during the Wednesday night meeting. The board ultimately approved an audit to learn more about the condition of the pool, if repairs are needed, and how much the maintenance would cost. The audit will be outsourced to an engineering firm, costing the town $4,000. Some residents question why the buildings and grounds department, who is already paid by the town, cannot conduct the study themselves.
“This is a deeper level of examination,” Gary Dickson, town supervisor, said during a lively exchange with resident Courtney Fallon.
“What could be a deeper level of examination than the people who service it regularly?” Fallon questioned.
“I’ve given you my answer. Do you have another issue?” Supervisor Dickson replied.
“Is there any reason to doubt the town employees’ assessment?” Fallon asked.
“Because they are not engineers,” Dickson replied.
In August, the town board considered getting rid of the pool completely, but residents rallied to save it. They even held a funeral service at the pool to protest the potential demolition. On Wednesday, several pro-pool speakers voiced their concerns about closing it forever.
“I think the pool should be open whether you cut it in half or whatever you do to it, but leave it open so kids can swim. You can’t have an 11 year old going to your splash pad and think he’s having fun in the summer,” Sharon Chase said.
Some residents organized a pro-pool group called West Seneca Swims to try to save the structure.
“West Seneca Swims was essentially criticized for not being organized enough and not having a head. We’re just a group of people who came together that don’t even know each other, don’t have any money, and we are just trying to get the pool to stay open,” Lisa Fehr added.
Others say times have changed and kids are not interested in using pools as they were in the past.
“If you get up in these figures of $6,700 to fix a pool for a short period of time, it’s a big mistake,” Rudy Russo said.
The next step is completing the audit and learning how much it could cost the town to keep the pool. The board also says if they do open it, they need enough life guards and staff to keep it going.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.