Charles Williams (right), owner of Williams Auction Co. LLC kicked off the "2017 Year of Giving Campaign" for the Fieldale Recreation Center & Pools by presenting a $1,000 check to Recreation Center volunteers Alex Alley (left) and Andrew Kahle (center.)
January 8, 1017, Martinsville Bulletin:
FIELDALE-Energized by a successful soft opening of the pools at the Fieldale Recreation Center last September, the volunteers who are bringing the center back to life have big plans for the future.
Last year, the non-profit Fieldale Heritage Festival Committee used about $60,000 in donations to re-open the pools, which included replacing the old pump equipment and plumbing with modern technology and painstakingly re-painting the pools in sweltering summer heat.
The pools re-opened on Labor Day weekend and also opened the two following weekends, according to volunteer Andrew Kahle, and the response was overwhelming.
More than 100 people turned out the first day the pools were open, Kahle said, and everyone said the same thing: “We’re so happy to be back.”
In addition to the pools, the ball field behind the recreation center also saw plenty of use from the Lady Slammers Fastpitch Softball teams, which utilized the field extensively all summer, Kahle said.
Now that winter has arrived, he said, the committee is planning future improvements to the facility.
In the short-term, Kahle said, they would like to purchase an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant lift, so that anyone can get into one of the pools and have fun this coming summer. The lift likely will cost about $4,000, he said.
If the center can host tournaments on the ball field, Kahle said, it would be a great source of revenue to fund improvements to the center itself; however, the retaining wall behind the backstop must first be replaced so that people can safely sit in the bleachers. The cost of that project is unclear at this point, he said, but the committee plans to receive an estimate within the next few weeks.
The biggest project that the committee has in mind, however, underscores their commitment to keeping the Fieldale pools open for many, many years to come.
“In long-term plans, something we’d like to do is have both pools resurfaced, because we can get so much more life out of both pools if we do that,” Kahle said. “We’ll be getting some estimates from National Pools to do both at one time or one at a time and see what the price differences are, and we’ll move forward.”
Four years ago, he said, the ballpark estimate to resurface both pools at once was about $200,000. The resurfacing doesn’t need to be done immediately, he said, but once it has been done, it could extend the life of the pools by fifty or sixty years.
“We aren’t in this just for 2016 and 2017,” Kahle said. “We’re in this for the long term.”
The committee does not plan to solely use private donations to fund these improvements, however; Kahle said that he would like to see more concerts take place on the recreation center grounds, as those have proven to be hugely successful.
“We did two concerts, and they were such a huge success,” he said. “We want to use our grounds as a mini-festival site. When we did the concerts, the streets were full, the grounds were full, and people were happy. … We don’t have enough volunteers yet to do that on a monthly basis … but if we get more people involved, we could do that more frequently. And that’s a huge fundraiser. That funded a lot of the work at the pools.”
When Kahle was growing up in Fieldale in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he said, there were more young folks in town than there are today. However, he said, the first day that the pools re-opened, he saw about eight neighborhood kids walk to the pools, cutting between the ball field and the back of the recreation center, ready to take a dip.
“I think that was probably the nicest sight I saw that first day,” he said. “Kids that lived in town, walking from their homes to the pool. For me, it was special to see that.”
To donate to the Fieldale Recreation Center or inquire about volunteering, visit ilovefieldale.com or the Fieldale Recreation Center and Pools Facebook page. Checks made out to the Fieldale Recreation Center may also be mailed to Fieldale Heritage Festival Inc., PO Box 333, Fieldale, Va. 24089.
Ben R. Williams reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.