by Jonathan Weaver
Despite receiving outside input as to the future of the Belmont Complex last year, Armstrong County Commissioners have decided at this time not to make any further upgrades to the West Kittanning facility.
Yesterday morning, officials closed out the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant process after hearing from county Planning and Development Project Manager Tom Swisher.
“Everything was completed in accordance of the grant agreement, expenditures remained in accordance of the grant agreement, materials were acceptable to Armstrong County and the plan and materials will be used to guide future recreation and conservation decisions, Swisher said.
“We think the report was everything (commissioners) were looking for.”
Initially received in June 2015, the in-depth study reviewed financials and demographics to not only review the pool usage but discuss long-term viability and additional recreation opportunities. A sum of $30,700 was received by DCNR before that amount was matched by county officials.
Commissioner Chair Pat Fabian said more long-term conversation is needed before upgrades are implemented.
“Right now, we do not have any dollars to do any kind of upgrades there, so that puts us in a holding pattern. We need to game plan into the future how the Belmont Complex fits into the county budget, how it fits in as a community asset and resource, Fabian said.
“We’re going to have to have some discussion on how we want to proceed with the Complex itself – ideally, we need a comprehensive plan with some outcomes,” Fabian added. “Whether that’s a two-year plan, three-year plan, five, 10, etc., we’re going to need some input from the taxpayers of Armstrong County.”
Commissioner George Skamai added that options are under consideration.
Last summer, officials did implement two suggestions received from Pashek Associates – extending pool hours into the evening and adding a heater to warm up the water.
Those additions – and a little additional marketing – made a considerable difference, Fabian said.
“I think in combination with good weather and the warm water, (Armstrong County) saw the best season- an increase of about $29-30,000,” Fabian said. “Hopefully we have sunshine this Summer and we have as good of a season, if not better.”
Other suggestions revealed last year included an outdoor destination playground/spray park, indoor sports facility or a studio ice rink.