In need of a ‘Mericle’

First Posted: 8/15/2014

The Pittston City pool needed a miracle. It definitely got one, so to speak.

Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services recently renovated the Pittston City pool property with its Lend a Hand Program, in which city volunteers donate their time and effort to refurbrish and clean up areas of the community.

“We created the Lend a Hand Program to give back to the local communities,” said Jim cummings, vice president and marketing director for Mericle. “Basically, what we do every year is we pick a couple of projects and we donate all of the labor, equipment and materials needed to complete the project. In the past, we’ve fixed up quite a few local community parks and athletic fields that were in dispare. We would revitalize softball fields, repave basketball courts, hang new nets, seed and mulch, landscape and so forth.”

Vice chair of the city’s redevelopment authority and former Pittston mayor Michael Lombardo took notice of how the vacant pool was a posing health and safety violations for the community. He contacted Mericle’s Lend a Hand Program knowing the company could fix the property and turn it into something worth mentioning.

“This particular project the city reached out to us,” said Cummings. “Mike Lombardo asked us to take what had been a very serious liability for them and turn it back into a commission and sell it to a good developer and put it back on the tax rolls.”

The Pittston city pool project took three weeks to finish and was completed on Saturday, Aug. 16, according to Cummings.

“We had to remove the former pool which was a job that involved a lot of heavy equipment and some fairly significant construction,” said Cummings. “Once the pool was removed, we had to fill in the holes, grade the property, compact the property and now we’ve hydro seeded and hayed it to get a nice greenscape going.”

Cummings said the Lend a Hand Program gets two projects a year, with the pool being its second one of 2014. The group’s first project was the renovation of the Duryea Little League field earlier this year.

Previous projects have included upgrades to Bryden Park, Oriole Park, Plains Little League field, Spadi Park and Robert Yaple Memorial Park.

Having been familiar with the positive outcomes of community service from the Mericle Lend a Hand Program, Lombardo knew the group wwas the right one for the job in fixing up the Pittston City pool.

“The pool was an outdated structure that was vacant for many years,” said Lombardo. “The Mericle development group indicated that through (its) Lend a Hand Program they were willing to volunteer and come down.”

Lombardo estimated the project as a whole cost around $120,000, but none of that money came from the pockets of the community.

“It’s $120,000 that the community didn’t have to pay,” said Lombardo. “Things are moving and we’re seeing a lot of progress downtown. We still need to be selective about the way we really deploy public dollars out there into the street and this is a priority, but it’s what I could call an almost unfundable priority. There’s just things above and on the list.”

Lombardo felt the work put in by the Lend a Hand Program lifted a heavy weight off the city’s shoulders as, he said,there was no way the renovations would have been completed so quickly without volunteers.

“We’re really grateful for their assistance,” Lombardo of the Mericle group. “It would have taken us much longer to get this project done, or it would have come at a much more significant cost to the city.”

As for what will be done with the property itself, Lombardo says it will most likely be developed into a housing site for smaller homes or apartment complexes.