GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Common Council Tuesday night decided the city should partner with the Gloversville Enlarged School District to survey the city’s youth to determine what they would prefer the city do with the 7.4 acre former Littauer Pool site.
First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss brought up the topic of the former Littauer Pool site, and explained why she thinks the council should solicit feedback from young people about what to do with it.
“How do we [and] how do I know what children want?” Weiss said. “Do I really know what a 15-year-old wants or an 8-year-old wants? And I think the answer to that is no.”
Last week, the city Department of Public Works commenced both demolition and the filling-in of the 1957-vintage, 7,725-square-foot, T-shaped Littauer Pool area, which has not operated as a public pool since at least 2004. The city will also demolish the approximately 100-year-old bathhouse at the site, pending an environmental study to determine what hazardous materials, such as asbestos, it may contain.
The demolition work sparked many emotional reactions in the form of social media comments and posts among current and former Gloversville residents with fond memories of the facility, both the post 1957-version and the prior gunite-style pool at the same location, for which the bathouse was originally built.
While Weiss said she has fond memories of the Littauer Pool herself, she has noticed most of the people who have expressed the most emotion about the demolition are older people, and not the young people a public pool area would largely serve should the city decide to build a new one.
“I think one of the great things about having the kids choose is, it would take all of the politics out of it,” Weiss said. “It was very upsetting to me to read so many comments about the council not caring about kids; that’s such an untrue statement.”
“I didn’t write that,” said 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio, who has been the elected official most associated with the effort to revive the pool since her first tenure on the council in 2008.
Anadio said she did some public outreach in 2010 soliciting the views of younger people. She said she supports that approach, but also hopes the city will include something at the site that recognizes the past history of the Littauer Pool.
The issue of the Littauer Pool site had become a political football during the 2021 mayoral race with Republican mayoral candidate William Rowback Jr. raising the issue via videos posted about the topic to social media.
Prior to the election in 2021, the council hired Albany-based engineering firm Barton & Loguidice, at a cost of $15,750, paid from the $16,000 left over from a $24,100 grant the city received from the Littauer Foundation in 2007, to do a feasibility study for the future of the Littauer Pool site.
In February 2022, the council reviewed the results of th 39-page feasibility study, which offered three options:
• Renovate the existing facilities, restoring the pool to operation and building a new bathhouse for $3.5 million — with the caveat that the cost might increase if asbestos were to be found in the bathhouse
• Replace the existing pool with a similar, but smaller size pool with a new splash pad spray park, new concrete deck area and new bathhouse for $4.1 million
• Replace the existing pool, bathhouse and shed buildings with a new splash pad and bathroom facility for $1.3 million
The council then effectively tabled the discussion of what to do with the site until it came up again earlier this month, when Dept. of Public Works Director Don Schwartz explained to the council that the pool site is dangerous and that the city has officially condemned the bathhouse. He said all of the infrastructure at the Littauer site has gone without maintenance for 20 years and for the purpose of public safety must be demolished.
The demolition work at the site effectively removes the $3.5 million renovation option from the feasibility study, which Schwartz said he suspects is less than what the actual cost would have been. Schwartz also said the demolition work is a necessary first step toward building a new pool, should the council choose to do so.
While Weiss said she has not formed an opinion for or against the possibility of the city building a new pool at the site, she thinks the council should get direct feedback from young people before deciding the site’s future fate.
“Why can’t we put this together and send it to the middle school and the high school and do a form, and we’d all have to get our heads together on different [options for] activities that could be done in that area, including a pool,” Weiss said. “Then, we put it out to the kids and let them decide [by ranking their choices], and then get that information back and look at that information, and it will have come from the people who want to use it.”
Mayor Vince DeSantis said he has discussed the idea of surveying students for their opinions about the future use of the Littauer Pool site with GESD Superintendent David Halloran.
“And he said what they would actually do is do this digitally by emailing all of those students from 6th-12th grades,” DeSantis said. “And what I’m hoping for is that each student could give us their first, second and third choice, and we would have all of the possible recreational facilities listed, and we’d also have a blank space so they could fill-in [additional ideas] for what they’d want to do with it. We could also do this on paper, for the third, fourth and fifth graders.”
The consensus of the council agreed to solicit the survey from GESD, and then use the results to help guide future decisions about the site.