Aquatorium Site 'Unsalvageable'

Washington PA  Observer Reporter
5 May 2011
By Scott Beveridge, Staff writer

MONONGAHELA - Forty years of withstanding the spring flood season along the Monongahela River have taken their toll on a riverfront stage in the city named after the tributary.

Periodic high water marks have eroded the storm sewer under the Noble J. Dick Aquatorium in Monongahela and also battered its wooden benches painted to mimic the U.S. flag, said Rob Phillips of the Washington County Redevelopment Authority.

"The water comes up several steps into the bleachers," said Phillips, an assistant community development director at the authority. "It's done so much damage it's unsalvageable."

The city permitted a group of Washington County Jail inmates to remove the rows of wooden benches in advance of spending $407,000 this year to rebuild the concrete stage and arena. The money equals the city's 2009 share of the proceeds from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane Township.

Phillips said the authority is expected to award a contract in three weeks to a company interested in demolishing and rebuilding the aquatorium.

The new benches will be made with aluminum or a composite to better withstand the affects from high water. They will be in colors of red, white and blue in keeping with the original flag design, Phillips said.

"Not being from Western Pennsylvania, to see it for the first time it was pretty interesting," he said.

The storm sewer will be relocated to the side of the structure to prevent any leaking water from pushing up the steps and seating again.

"It lasted a long time for the beating it's taken."

The city has been awarded $250,000 in slots money this year for the project, and also another $127,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to construct a skateboard park in the area accessed from Second Street. The work is expected to be completed by fall.