Child asks borough for more swimming pools

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Adalyn Johnston at home with her Samoyan, Blizzard. In addition to swimming, she likes to snowboard, ice skate, dance, golf and play piano.

A young Greencastle resident took her first step into politics. Adalyn Johnston, 7, wrote a letter to Greencastle Borough Council about her desire for more swimming pools in town. Though council members did not discuss her request, they had read her hand-printed letter, which was included in the board packet for review prior to the Feb. 4 meeting.

The homeschooled youngster wrote, in part, "There is only one pool in Greencastle. I think we should get more because pools are fun! They also help people relax. It's important that kids learn how to be safe near water. Thank you for your service to Greencastle. Can you please consider building more pools? From, Adalyn."

Adalyn and her parents, Jeromie and Junett Johnston, moved to Greencastle a year ago. They have a membership to Moss Spring Swim Club, the private organization at 475 N. Allison St. It is the only pool in town.

Yet the second-grader wished for another option, "because some people in Greencastle don't go to pools because for our pool you have to have a code to get in."

Membership at Moss Spring is limited to 300 families and 15 singles.

"She has friends who aren't members," said Junett. "They come with us. We're used to having more options."

The family swam nearly every day the pool was open last summer. Adalyn was happy she passed the test that allowed her to use the diving board.

The Johnstons purchased their membership directly from someone ready to sell, but knew of other people waiting for years to snag a deed of ownership.

"The waiting list seems pretty ineffective," said Junett, "when people new to town can get a deed."

She thought a traditional public swimming pool would be nice for the residents.

Council president Charles Eckstine said the borough has never pursued building a pool because of the cost.

"It's a very expensive proposition, to install and maintain a swimming pool. Greencastle couldn't support one. It's not economically feasible."

He had heard few requests for a pool during his years on council, and doubted the older citizens would utilize one.

Mayor Bob Eberly recalled the Town Meetings and 5-Year Strategic Plan approved by council in September 2009. On a wish list, citizens had indicated a swimming pool would make the community more attractive.

"The timing was bad, because the Waynesboro pool was experiencing some problems at the time, and Greencastle had, and still has, no desire to raise taxes for a pool that would benefit so few residents. And of course, we have Moss Spring Swim Club," said Eberly.

Adalyn received an acknowledgement letter from the borough manager. Susan Armstrong thanked her for the suggestion but said it was unlikely the borough would build a pool.

Moss Spring

According to the its website, Moss Spring Swim Club was formed in 1965. It is operated by a nine-member board of directors. The officers include president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

The bylaws state that the board will refund a membership fee if at least 10 people are on a waiting list. Applicants for membership are approved by a committee, and then by the full board. Members can transfer their certificate to another person after obtaining the same approvals. The new member pays a transfer fee to MSSC. If the member sells the deed privately, the new member must also be approved.

The price of the deed certificate is not specified, but the 2012 annual dues were family, $350; and single, $225. Members may bring guests to the pool. Last year's admission rates were $6 on weekends and $5 on weekdays, with a $1 drop after 4 p.m.

The club provides swimming lessons for members and the public, for a fee. The Stingrays swim team is entering its fifth year, and involved 86 youth in 2012. It charges a participation fee and is also open to children from the general public.

MSSC hosts competitive and recreational volleyball, free for all, for players age 13 and up.