Donations needed for Devola rec areas

For the past 43 years Devola’s pool has provided the community with a cool respite during hot summer days. The pool and other community recreational facilities are primarily operated and maintained by volunteers, but after four decades of use the pool, playground and tennis and basketball courts are in dire need of some upgrades-and that will cost some money.

“In the last few years there’s been increasing use of the pool and playground areas, especially during soccer season when a lot of families come to watch the games and their younger children play on the playground,” said Michelle Whitacre, a member of the East Muskingum Civic Association board that helps maintain the facilities.

“Most of the work at the playground and pool, except for lifeguards, is done by volunteers,” she said. “We paint and do a lot of the repairs. But funding is needed for materials and equipment.”

The recreational facilities are not funded through any governmental agency, so the EMCA relies heavily on donations and fundraisers to keep the facilities maintained.

“The EMCA has been looking to upgrade the playground for a couple of years, and we even have an architect’s drawing of the equipment we want to install, but we really haven’t been able to move ahead with the plans due to a need for funding,” said EMCA board member John Karas.

Earlier this month Karas mailed letters to 1,025 Devola area residents, asking for a minimum donation of $25 per household to help pay for playground equipment and provide for upgrades to the pool and other facilities.

“I just decided to contact everyone in Devola and simply ask for donations,” he said. “We’re hoping for some larger donations, too, as well as seeking some corporate contributions from area businesses.”

The EMCA has set up a pool playground fund through The Marietta Community Foundation to which donations can be made.

Karas said he would personally like to see contributions of up to $100,000 for upgrades to the community recreational complex.

“But $50,000 to $60,000 for the playground would be great,” he said. “And we need a few things to be done at the pool, also. We would like to purchase a new pump for the pool so we could have an extra on hand in case the old pump fails.”

Karas said currently the pool has to be shut down if pump problems develop.

A new pump is expected to cost around $2,000.

He said the pool deck also needs work, and there has already been some donation of concrete for that project.

Steve Schoonover, another member of the EMCA board, said the pool was originally built between 1969 and 1971, and funding for a down payment on the facility was obtained by going door-to-door throughout the community.

“It’s really owned by the community through the EMCA,” he said. “They obtained pledges from residents and used the down payment to obtain an FHA loan that was paid off in 30 years at $5,600 a year.”

Karas noted the FHA was impressed that the loan was totally paid off, as other communities had ended up defaulting on loans for similar facilities.

Schoonover said in addition to the extra pump, some lines from the pumphouse to the pool are rusted and will need to be replaced after the facility closes for the season.

“And we hope to add two pieces of equipment for the playground, which are expected to cost around $20,000 each,” he said. “Also the tennis courts have developed quite a few cracks in the asphalt and we would like to replace the nets there.”

Schoonover added that the basketball courts are in need of some resurfacing and the backstops should be replaced.

“We’re just trying to get this started by raising some money for repairs and replacement of some equipment,” Karas said, adding that he hopes the community will come together to help with the recreational facility upgrades.

In 2009 the EMCA and Oak Grove Recreation Committee proposed a recreation levy to the Muskingum Township Trustees which was placed on that year’s general election ballot. The 3/4-mil levy would have cost less than $2 a month for the owner of a home valued at $100,000 and would have raised $65,000 annually for five years.

But the levy proposal failed by about 15 votes, Karas said, leaving the recreational facilities in the EMCA’s hands which now must rely on donations in order to keep the facilities operational.

“I believe in this project. I think it’s time for the current residents to lend a hand and make a donation to keep the recreation area the pride of the neighborhood,” Karas said. “While I am looking for minimum donations from everyone, I am also hopeful that we will have some residents who have been successful in their lives to sponsor a piece of equipment or fund a project in honor or memorial of a loved one or family. And everyone who contributes will be recognized.”