Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem residents get peek at possible Memorial Pool improvements

City seeks input on pool, Monocacy Park upgrades

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The City of Bethlehem sought the public’s feedback on Monday, regarding its plans to upgrade Memorial Pool.

The city unveiled several sketch plans for upgrades to the city’s 61-year-old Memorial Pool and surrounding Monocacy Park complex at a public meeting at Illick’s Mill.

The two dozen or so city residents who attended were asked to fill out a survey soliciting their opinions on the different options for upgrading the pool and park.

Some possible additions to the pool proposed are shade structures and umbrellas hanging out over the pool, a tot playground area, umbrella tables and a multi-purpose room.

Other amenities adults and children may be able to enjoy could include a climbing wall, recreational and competitive spring board diving, water buckets and water cannons.

The pool consultants, Wallover Architects of Lancaster, Inc., presented three possible sizes for the pool: 7,400, 9,740 or 10,050 square feet. The pool is currently 15,300 square feet.

The concepts propose several different ways to alter the parking lot to better manage storm water runoff and to make more room for a pedestrian gathering lawn or viewing area. Another option presented would be to leave the parking lot as is.

One of the concepts proposed adding a 10-foot paved trail that would extend from the recycling center to the bridge near Illick’s Mill.

The different plans presented several options on whether and how to alter the Theis Cornfield Recycling Center.

One plan would be to relocate the center and integrate it with the composting facility, while another is to renovate the center so that it is less prominent along Illick’s Mill Road, but is still accessible.

Another option would be to leave the recycling center as is.

Other suggestions included widening the sidewalks to 8 feet and installing a 4-foot wide bike path.

The city wants to improve the Monocacy Way Trail and extend it into Monocacy Park to connect to the facilities there.

One option would be to clean up the land area along Monocacy Way but leave it as a natural area for wildlife viewing and supporting habitat. The city is also considering using the area along Monocacy Way for active recreation purposes such as a BMX park or adult adventure facilities.

Bethlehem is also considering removing the dam at Illick’s Mill, which it says retains water and silt behind it, causing unhealthy conditions for fish in the Monocacy Creek.

Another option being considered is to breach or lower the dam to allow for a better flow of water over it, or to restore the floodplain behind the dam.

Patrick Kerrity, a city resident, said that all the details of the plans were a lot to absorb. He said he was “happy to see recreation on the front-burner” of the city’s priorities.

It is “great” that new recreational facilities will be added for future generations to enjoy, Kerrity said.

Resident Elaine Van Keuren said that the pool’s size should not be reduced, as a smaller pool may not be enough to accommodate the large crowds at the beginning and end of summer.

Van Keuren said she didn’t think all the new attractions are needed. She said she simply a wanted a pool to cool off in.

The next step is for the city to consider the surveys of the residents’ suggestions in continuing to refine its plans for the pool and park upgrades.

Memorial Pool will be closed for the summers of 2018 and 2019 to undergo repairs.

West Side, Clearview, Stark and Yosko pools will be open in 2018 and 2019.

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