St. Davids resident Andy Panko wants to see the village have the new pool it needs and deserves.
He’s opening up his wallet to help see it built, and is encouraging others to do the same.
The father of two kids who attended the village public school and swam in the pool more than 20 years ago is now the proud grandfather of a little boy who is also growing up in St. Davids. Panko hopes his grandson, along with all other kids and future kids who live in the area, will have a great pool nearby.
Panko, 66, has been semi-retired for the past six years, and is shortly to be fully-retired, he says. He’s looking forward to spending his days between his garden, his bees, model train collection and railway history articles. “I was a licensed geoscientist, and with great partners, did brownfield property development for many years. I am now happy to pursue more personal interests.” His wife Domenica has been retired for the past 13 years after 31 years as a teacher, and is busier than ever with many things on the go in all seasons, indoors and out, says Panko, who is also helping Domenica babysit their grandson when their daughter is at work.
“I remember when we raised money as a community for a new gym at St. Davids School,” he says. One of the leaders in the community who led that campaign was Bob Gale, then a St. Davids resident with kids attending the school, recalls Panko.
“He was an influence to me in making this donation for the pool, based on what he did for the school gym.”
Panko met with Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Kevin Turcotte, acting director of operations, in St. Davids Thursday to hand over a cheque for $5,000. He’d made the decision to donate when he read in The Local that the Town is forming a fundraising committee for the pool, and is challenging others to do the same. “I just want to give a little push to get this started,” he says.
“There are all kinds of people coming into the community. When we were bringing our kids up in St. Davids, there was almost nobody here. We were just a small community. We made sure our kids came first.These people who are moving into Cannery Park don’t have swimming pools in their backyards, and the most important thing you can do for your kids is teach them how to swim.”
As the community grows, there will be more families moving in, and as the seniors in the village downsize, their homes will also attract families, he says.
“There may not be a lot of kids now, but next year, or the year after, some of these houses will be flipped, and some of them will be bought by young people.”
Those who come to the area “couldn’t find a better school or a better neighbourhood” for raising a family, he says.
“People who live here, especially people who have just moved here, are just finding out how cool it is, how much better it is than they could ever even imagined. It’s a perfect spot, bucolic, as far as I’m concerned. But it needs a pool.” The St. Davids Lions Club has contributed $10,000, and with the proceeds from the Town’s golf tournament, which included a donation from the St. Davids Ratepayers Association, the fund is now at about $45,000.
The pool is expected to cost $5 million, and the Town has applied for a federal/provincial infrastructure grant of $4.74 million. The 2020 budget includes $100,000 for the pool, The fundraising campaign goal will depend on the success of the grant, but is likely to be set at $1 million, says Turcotte.
The next step is to form a committee. Disero has reached out to the St. Davids Ratepayers Association and to the St. Davids Lions Club, asking each to provide two members to be involved. Couns. John Wiens and Gary Burroughs have volunteered as council representatives. Since last week’s meeting, she has received an application from one resident, she has two Lions Club volunteers, and the residents association is looking for two representatives.
Calling Panko’s donation “the spark to ignite the fundraising campaign, Disero says, “this generous donation is a great way to launch the St. Davids Pool Fundraising Committee. The establishment of the committee will come to council on Feb. 24, 2020. Now that we have our first private donation, let’s get going!”
Applications for the committee can be found at: https://notl.civicweb.net/document/15898.