PLUM (KDKA) — Kids enjoyed Memorial Day at the Plum Aqua Club, as they’ve done since 1964, creating memories for generations.
“Back then, I played here every day with my cousins and siblings,” recalled Joe Messina of Plum. “Now my kids are doing the same. People have worked really hard to make this a great place for families to go and enjoy their summer.”
But this is the last summer for the membership club open to all, which is being forced to close because of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
“They’re going to seize the land on eminent domain,” club vice president Mike Fisher told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
The club, near the Turnpike, off Saltsburg Road, is being taken so the Turnpike can rebuild a bridge over the pike and then expand the four-lane turnpike into six-lanes coming within feet of the pool itself.
Using eminent domain, the Turnpike Commission is taking the only access to the swim club. And the terrain is such that no other access road can be built.
That gives the club no choice but to close the pool after this year.
So the next question — can they raise enough money to relocate the pool?
The cost of doing that?
“We’re thinking it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.4 million; it might be as low as $1.8 million,” says Fisher.
Delano: “How much is the Turnpike offering you?”
Fisher: “$940,000 was the initial offer.”
Delano: “$940,000? That’s nowhere near enough.”
Fisher: “No. It’s not enough.”
Some members say it’s unfair.
“I don’t like it. I’m not happy about it. I’m not happy the Turnpike is coming through here and, if they do, compensate us justly so that we can start a pool elsewhere,” says Amy Sipple of Penn Hills, a member for 15 years.
While the club voted not to relocate unless the Turnpike ups its offer, many have not given up.
“We will be posting a Facebook page — Save Plum Aqua — which everyone can go onto,” says Gian Covone of Plum.
As summer begins, it’s an open question whether the community, elected officials, and the Turnpike step up to save Plum Aqua.