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Memorial Pool reopens

The reopening of Memorial Pool brought sunshine to a cloudy – well, mostly rainy – day June 11 in the city of Bethlehem, which celebrated the occasion with an official afternoon ceremony.

“Maybe the rain is a good omen,” Mayor Robert Donchez said with a smile.

Originally opened in 1956 and last used in 2017, Memorial reopened in its 65th year with a completely new design after demolition and reconstruction. The complex features three pools: an activity pool with two action slides; a six-lane competition pool with three meter and one meter diving boards; and a zero entry pool with a splash bucket feature.

Those joining the mayor included State Sen. Lisa Boscola; Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure; State Rep. Steve Samuelson; State Rep. Jeanne McNeill; Megan Beste, district director for Congresswoman Susan Wild; Lauren Ingrund of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Joanne Messenlehner, first diver at the 1956 grand opening; Jodi Evans, City of Bethlehem recreation director; and Jane Persa, retired City of Bethlehem recreation director.

The pool opened for season pass holders that evening and to the general public the next day.

PRESS PHOTOS BY TAMI QUIGLEY The zero entry pool with a splash bucket feature, left, and the activity pool with two action slides stand ready for summer fun. Please see page A2 for more pool opening photos.
Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, right, presents Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez with a proclamation congratulating the City of Bethlehem for the official reopening of Memorial Pool during the ceremony at the pool on Illicks Mill Road.
State Sen. Lisa Boscola, who played a prominent role in securing funding for the project, expresses her enthusiasm for the new pool. “This is near and dear to me,” said Boscola, recalling her time as a lifeguard at Memorial and noting the pool is important for kids and families. “Let's have fun this summer,” she said. A total of $1.742 million in funding brought the project to fruition, $1 million of which was given by the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which presented a check at the groundbreaking in 2018.
Jane Persa, retired recreation director of the City of Bethlehem, left, and Joanne Messenlehner, first diver at the 1956 grand opening, officially cut the ribbon. The reopening of the pool, last used in 2017, was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jodi Evans, recreation director of the City of Bethlehem, is all smiles during the rainy reopening. Evans used to be on the recreation committee, while Jane Persa was recreation director before retiring after 40 years in 2019. They have now “swapped roles,” Evans said, adding that Persa started the project and Evans completed it in their respective roles.
Bethlehem City Councilman Michael Colon prepares to go diving in the rain from the high dive after the official ceremony.
Lizzie Green sails off a high dive for the first time after the pool opened for season pass holders from 4 to 7 p.m. Lizzie is in her second year of swimming for the Bethlehem Stingrays Swim Team, and says, “I'm excited to swim here this summer.” The pool will be home to the Stingrays, as well as the Lehigh Diving Club.
Olive slip slides away into summer fun as she glides down the red action slide. Olive was happy to be at the pool, and said with a smile, “The rain doesn't matter.”
9267 Raindrops falling on her head doesn't dampen the fun for Olive who takes her turn on the yellow action slide.