A community group is hopeful that the shuttered Ligonier Beach property will eventually look like its former self.
At Wednesday’s Ligonier Valley Joint Comprehensive Plan steering committee meeting, Ligonier Township Recreation Board Chairperson Sharon Detar said the unnamed group has begun discussing possible uses for the Route 30 landmark, which closed last year.
“There are a lot of ideas going around,” Detar told the steering committee. “There is a group that wants to keep the pool for historic reasons and for the community to use, and there are a lot of other ideas to use that property as well.”
Earlier this year, township officials offered Ligonier Beach owners Sherry and Steve Kozar $230,000 for the property, which opened in 1925.
The offer was accepted pending grant funding items and the Kozars’ resolution of a tax issue, township manager Terry Carcella said.
Officials have stressed that they want citizens’ input on how to develop and reopen Ligonier Beach. Any public forum probably will not happen until 2020, as it will take the rest of this year to close on the property, hire a project consultant and secure the grant funding, according to Carcella.
The Kozars shut down the 10-acre property in 2018 after flooding damaged the pool’s water pumps and the restaurant’s furnace.
The Kozars filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy last spring.
In July, township supervisors voted to approve a $2,300 contract with The Insite Group to conduct a phase one environmental assessment study of the historic swimming pool and restaurant.
The township will also conduct a survey of the property. Both items are needed for a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant that would cover half the cost of the property.
The other half of the Ligonier Beach purchase will be covered by a yet-undisclosed donor. Carcella declined to name the funder at a previous meeting.
Detar said the community group has talked to people in Harrisburg, along with individuals who run Westmoreland County-based pools and local campground areas that contain pools. To the group’s knowledge, she said, the only regulations at the state level dealt with water quality and handicap accessibility.
“We also found many pools in the area are making money and are self-sustainable,” she said.
Detar said other possible uses for the Ligonier Beach property have been discussed, including a dog park, skateboard park, splash park or a camping area.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but we have done a lot of research over having a pool and it does seem feasible,” she said. “... Derry has a pool, Latrobe has a pool, so there is a need. There is nowhere to swim other than the (Ligonier Valley YMCA).”
She said a number of local organizations, including the Lincoln Highway Experience in nearby Unity Township, are in favor of keeping Ligonier Beach’s pool area for its historical significance.
In other business, steering committee member Mariah Fisher said Savvy Citizen — a smartphone app-based mass communication system to alert Ligonier Borough residents of local news items— is now active.
Ligonier Borough Council last month voted to try the app for a one-year trial period. Residents are able to download the free app through the Apple AppStore or Google Play and select the categories of push notifications they want to receive. Residents without smartphone access can sign up to receive emails and text messages or check the Savvy Citizen website at www.savvycitizenapp.com. Participation is voluntary.
Ligonier Borough officials can use the application to inform residents of items such as brush pickup days, car thefts, flooding incidents, parking lot closures for community events and more. Application users can also set reminders for council meetings and Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce events.
Fisher said the Savvy Citizen app was brought to the attention of Ligonier Township officials and is something they may consider providing to township residents.
Also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting:
- The steering committee continued discussion on expanding resources in the Valley for drug awareness and prevention programs. Several committee members mentioned creating a brochure to raise awareness and provide information on the region’s drug epidemic. Fisher added that a physical brochure won’t be as effective as an online anti-drug campaign; she also noted that community seminars held in the past were poorly attended. According to data from the Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office, there have been 52 confirmed drug overdose deaths (and 17 pending) this year, including one death in Ligonier Township;
- Fisher said she is looking to create a Ligonier Valley Joint Comprehensive Plan Facebook page to provide residents updates on the plan. She said deciding what information and guidelines will go on the page must be agreed upon before the Facebook account goes live.
The steering committee typically meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month, alternating between council chambers at Ligonier Town Hall and the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex. The committee’s next meeting is tentatively slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the township municipal complex.