North Park is located on a 115 acre parcel of land rich in Borough of Kutztown history. Located on this site for many years was a freshwater swimming pool that long served the residents of the Borough of Kutztown. The Kutztown Pool was large enough to not only provide residents and visitors with summer entertainment, but local historians report that visitors also came to the pool to ice skate during cold winters. After closing in 1963, the site had no official use for many years. The Borough came to recognize the natural value of this land and after a planning process created the new North Park.
Some highlights of the history of the Kutztown Pool and North Park are highlighted below.
Early whispers of making a Kutztown Pool at the site of the current North Park began with an article in The Kutztown Patriot. People were hoping to install a pool to build community morale. The pool would be surrounded by forested land, and picnic groves would be developed for pool visitors.
Construction of the Kutztown Pool at North Park was completed and the pool opened to the public. This 3 acre pool with a 12 foot diving board in its deep end it quickly gained popularity in the community. The fee was 25 cents per person, valued at $3.00 in today’s dollars. The Kutztown Fire Company managed the pool. The Fire Company maintained water quality by draining the pool into the Sacony Creek and re-filling the pool with icy cold fresh spring water each week.
Community Day at Kutztown Pool! The community welcomes a returning local solider in a celebration that included the local school band, fireworks, and a day of fun. During summers, the pool had one lifeguard on duty to monitor the safety of pool visitors, although the lifeguard was not often called on to rescue visitors.
The Kutztown Pool has a banner year. The pool sees its highest year of profit at $6,300 coming out of the Great Depression and following World War 2. This reflects the pool’s popularity with people not only from the Borough of Kutztown but from communities from the Borough to as far away as Reading.
The Kutztown Pool closes. A new pool, with chlorinated water and a mechanical filter was constructed and opened in town. Children would no longer have to ride their bikes along the highway, and the new pool was considered cleaner. The Fire Company deconstructs the pool and fills the site with soil and rocks.
1970s and 1980s
The area that once was home to the Kutztown Pool was used as an informal BMX course. Here bikers rode around a track made of soil that filled in the pool. Remnants of the small hills used by BMX riders can still be seen around the loop trail at North Park.
The Master Report for the old pool site was released. The new North Park would become a natural park to be enjoyed for its natural, ecological value as a home to wildlife, plants, and for the quiet enjoyment of Borough residents.
2013 and beyond
With a matching grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Borough develops the land, and constructs structures for North Park. The new North Park opens, with an attractive design that includes rain gardens, a gazebo, a picnic shelter, and a walking trail. The Borough’s commitment to develop the site for enjoyment by visitors and for its ecological values is supported by the Borough’s Environmental Advisory Commission (EAC), Berks Nature, youth groups including scouts, and students from Kutztown University. These groups have been working to restore and expand the riparian buffer that is so important for maintaining good water quality in the Sacony Creek. This work has focused on removing invasive plants and adding native trees and shrubs to support wildlife.
Restoration efforts will be ongoing for many years to come. If you are interested in volunteering to help with this conservation effort, please e-mail Kutztown Borough’s Environmental Advisory Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a brief summary of the pool’s history follow the link to the news article below:
What is the history behind the old Kutztown Swimming Pool?
Reading Eagle 2010.
Research and text provided by Julie Bowman, Phabion Davis, Francesca Nicholas, and Joanna Redcay. Information was gathered through interviews with Brendan Strasser of the Kutztown Area Historical Society and through newspaper articles and Borough of Kutztown documents. Photos from postcards are used with permission of the Kutztown Area Historical Society. The North Park webpage project and some of the restoration work was funded by an education grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to Todd Underwood and Christopher Sacchi of Kutztown University.