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City reaches its goal, raising enough money to open all pools this summer

With a six-figure donation from First Niagara Bank, the city has reached its goal of opening all of its pools this summer.

Officials of First Niagara, headquartered in upstate NY, which recently opened branches in the Philadelphia region, presented the city with a check this morning for $400,000 at a confetti-filled press conference held at Sacks Pool on the 400 block of Washington Avenue.

It is the largest donation the city has received toward its Splash and Summer Fund, a fundraising campaign launched last year to keep more city pools open.

Last summer, due to a budget shortfall, the city closed 27 of its 72 outdoor pools leaving residents in some neighborhoods to complain why some pools were allowed to open while others remained shut.

This summer, the city started a campaign to raise $600,000 to open every pool. Many neighborhood groups started fundraising to help reach that goal.

As of last month, through community-organized efforts such a 3-on-3 men's basketball tournament, a talent show, and the most creative, cow-chip bingo; and donations from big companies, the city had raised $250,000 toward its target.

Today's check from First Niagara, put the city over the top. The additional money will be carried over to next year's budget, said Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Alain Joinville.

The bank will also give $250,000 in grants so that 35 YMCA branches across Eastern Pennsylvania can offer free swimming lessons.

Mayor Michael Nutter called the donation "a shining example" of how corporate partnerships can "better the lives of those living in our city."

City pools are scheduled to begin opening June 18.