Community members soaked up the sun at the Hershey Pool for the last time before it gets redone. Derry Township officials are planning to build a new community center, but some residents are worried about rising taxes.
“We had a lot of nice memories here,” said GiGi Vitale, who is from Derry Township. “We came here like every day of the summer.”
“My favorite part is the deep end because, jumping and diving,” said Analise Tsyapa, a Derry Township resident.
“We will have our local senior center as part of the project,” said Matt Mandia, the Derry Township Director of Parks and Recreation. “We’re on the campus of the Derry Township School District and we’ll be working closely with the district to provide robust after school programs.”
With the excitement of new facilities does come concerns about costs.
“I will continue to be the loyal opposition on this project,” said Lou Paioletti, the Derry Township Tax Collector.
Paioletti admits the complex needs work, but is one of several people concerned about the project’s $32 million dollar price tag. He says the budget deficit is projecting a tax increase of 87% between now and 2025. Paioletti tells us about 30% of that may be from the new center.
“If you have a home that is assessed at $250,000, an 87% tax increase would increase your taxes by about $440 a year,” said Paioletti.
The project is expensive because the township wants to renovate its indoor and outdoor pools, and add an extra one, to try to attract swim meets.
Planners hope to build a gymnasium, fitness center, indoor track and event space.
Derry Township’s current recreation center has been open since 1963.
“We’re excited that there’s going to be a super awesome new aquatic center here, but unfortunately I’m concerned about the taxation situation because we haven’t seen a financial plan,” said Josie Vitale, a Derry Township resident.
The township is trying to raise five million dollars, and working to get grants, so the actual borrowing amount is to be determined.
“We’re doing everything that we can to ensure the financial impact is as low as possible,” said Mandia.
“Its going to be a good investment I think,” said Taras Tsyapa, who is from Derry Township. “We have a lot of kids in Hershey.”
The Parks and Recreation Department says final approvals still need to take place.
Planners say that construction is scheduled to take over a year, so they expect the new center to be open in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the pool will be shut for construction next summer.