Benwood Gets $400,000 for Pool Work

Photo by Joselyn King Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell, left, City Clerk Judy Hunt and Mayor Ed Kuca inspect the condition of the city’s pool. Benwood learned Wednesday it received a $400,000, 50-percent matching grant from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Land and Water Conservation Fund to make major upgrades to the pool.

Benwood soon will dive into an $800,000 project to replace the city’s aging pool so work can be completed by next spring.

City officials learned Wednesday morning the city has received a $400,000, 50-percent matching grant from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Land and Water Conservation Fund to make major upgrades to the pool. They planned to meet with engineers from Burgess and Niple of Columbus, Ohio, to finalize details and bid the project, with the intention of getting the work started as soon as next month.

Police Chief Frank Longwell was traveling to a business meeting outside Benwood Wednesday morning when he learned the news, and he quickly turned around and returned to the city building.

“A new pool for Benwood has been on my wish list for the city for a long time, but it was always out of reach,” he said. “You can’t get funding for pools anymore. The fact we got this proves miracles can happen. I really think this is going to be one of the gems of my tenure as a Benwood official.”

Mayor Ed Kuca said the pool opened in 1973. Prior to becoming mayor, he served from 1977 to 1988 on the Benwood Park Board that oversees operations at the park.

“I know how important this is,” he said.

Plans call for the pool’s concrete to be removed and replaced with stainless steel wall panels, and for a stainless steel gutter system to be installed. There would also be no need for ladders at the pool, as it would be surrounded by stepped seating, allowing patrons to walk down steps leading to the 4-foot-deep area at the center of the pool.

And special concrete guaranteed to be “leak-proof” would be applied to the pool’s floor. With an expected price tag of $373,000, the concrete floor is expected to be the most expensive item in the initial phase of work, estimated to cost $717,125. Additional alternatives, such as the placement of a small slide and shade structures around the pool, would bring the project to the $800,000 mark.

A second phase of the pool renovation project — not provided for in the funding announced Wednesday — would involve construction of a new pool house in the park.

City officials already have ideas to remove the existing putting course at the park and the fencing that surrounds it, and they are discussing creating a seating area with a fountain.

City Clerk Judy Hunt was responsible for compiling the financial data and photos needed by the city to apply for the grant.

“I’m excited,” she said. “A lot of work went into getting the information, and I’m happy we got the federal award. I hope Benwood residents will soon be able to enjoy the facility.”

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