Peters Township Council awarded a contract for the design of an aquatic center at Rolling Hills Park, to be constructed at the former site of the country club that bore the same name.
Council’s choice is Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site of Blue Bell, Montgomery County, one of three firms that provided presentations to township officials during a July 20 workshop meeting. The amount of the contract will be negotiated, and township manager Paul Lauer provided an estimate of about $500,000.
The overall cost estimate for the aquatic center is nearly $11 million, according to figures presented in 2019.
Monday’s action involved two votes, with the first determining “whether this is the appropriate time to build a pool,” Lauer said.
Following a pattern established more than a year ago, David Ball, council chairman, joined James Berquist, Frank Kosir Jr. and Robert Lewis voting in favor, and Frank Arcuri, Monica Merrell and Gary Stiegel Jr. opposing. The same four voted for awarding the contract, and the other three abstained.
“I don’t think there would be a better time, with interest rates as low as they are,” Berquist said. “Five years from now, 10 years from now, it’s going to cost significantly more than it would at this time.”
The township’s Comprehensive Recreation, Park and Open Space Plan, adopted in 2016, addresses as its No. 1 “key issue” the desire for a “township-operated swimming facility for Peters residents and visitors.”
“There’s not a question about whether or not an aquatic center is going to be built there, because the master plan calls for that,” Lauer said. “Until the master plan would be amended to eliminate that, our goal would be, at some point in time, to build that aquatic center.”
He has said community surveys since at least the mid-1980s have indicated a considerable amount of support for a public pool, including the results of a 2019 market study to determine the viability of such a project. Among council members, Lewis in particular has been a proponent during his lengthy tenure in public office.
The opposing council members primarily have cited financial considerations – Stiegel expressed the opinion funding for a new Peters Township Fire Department should be a priority – and Merrell pointed out Peters Township School District has a natatorium under construction at its new high school, which also is on the site of the former Rolling Hills Country Club.
According to information presented July 20, Kimmel Bogrette has worked with nearly 100 municipalities, mostly in Pennsylvania. Local examples include North Fayette Township, on an aquatics planning project, and South Fayette, on a new municipal complex, recreation center and library.