Fishtown celebrates a big redo for a city pool that’s officially re-opened for business

Melonie Shamlin, 10, Melody Sheridan, 9, and Isabella Prall, 10, celebrate their first swim at the new Lederer Pool in Fishtown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Melonie Shamlin, 10, Melody Sheridan, 9, and Isabella Prall, 10, celebrate their first swim at the new Lederer Pool in Fishtown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia’s newest pool is an old one that’s been given new life — and it’s open for business in Fishtown. The ribbon was cut amid a block party as part of the city’s Welcome America Celebration.

The $4 million dollar facility at Francis Lederer Recreation Center in Fishtown also includes a spray park which can be used when the pool is filled to capacity with swimmers, as it was during the grand opening.

Fishtown residents enjoy their first swim in the new Lederer Pool on East Montgomery Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The transformation of the facility is part of the Rebuild initiative which uses money from the sweetened beverage tax in order to fund things such as recreation center upgrades.

Jen Dacenzo was at the pool with her daughter. She was amazed at how nice the pool was after the years of neglect. The pool was closed for many years because it wasn’t operational.  Her plan for the summer is to take advantage of the new facility. “Get a tan and get wet — that will be so fun.”

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The 2,460-square-foot Francis Lederer Pool is part of a $4 million Rebuild project that includes a sprayground and artwork by Carin Mincemoyer. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Allison Brown was also at the pool with her son. She said you couldn’t see into the facility, which is colloquially called a “Swimmo” — a Philadelphia term for public pool that not even recreation officials can figure out the origin.

“I think it’s great, I never actually used the pool before because it was always intimidating, you couldn’t see inside from the outside because the wall was so high,” said Brown. This was her first time inside the fenced-in enclosure, which has been enhanced by a public art project attached to the fencing.

Mayor Jim Kenney wasn’t fazed by the multi-million cost of the pool and spray park. “I don’t know the details, things are expensive these days, you see just since the pandemic, the price has gone up, materials equipment labor professional services, it’s a pretty nice pool I can tell you that, it needed a lot of work.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at the grand opening of Francis Lederer Pool, part of a $4 million Rebuild project that includes a sprayground and artwork by Carin Mincemoyer. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Kyra Strong heads up the Rebuild effort. She said this facility had been closed for many years due to disrepair.

“For a long time. It was the only pool in the whole city that was closed. So, working closely with Parks and Rec and making sure we could design a new pool and get it to open was our goal.”

The Rebuild initiative announced just last week a $20 million dollar redo of Vare Recreation Center as part of its use of sweetened beverage tax money to pay for parks, libraries, and Pre-K programs in the city.

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