Stephen and Tabitha King donates

Posted: July 10, 2002, 00:00
Authors donate $1.1M for pool

BANGOR — On a steamy Monday afternoon, 6-year-old Keely Shorette and her visiting cousins piled out of the family car in hopes of escaping the heat at the city’s crowded west-side pool.

Across town, the city’s most famous literary couple offered a cool idea of their own.

Flanked by city officials in an air-conditioned City Hall on Monday afternoon, authors Stephen and Tabitha King announced they will donate $1.1 million to help build a new public pool more than three times the size of the current pool at Hayford Park.

It was a walk down Union Street on a steamy afternoon that convinced the couple a new facility was in order.

“All we saw was a lot of heads bobbing up and down,” said Stephen King of the scene at the popular swimming pool that serves hundreds of children on a typical summer day. “We thought maybe there was something we could do to remedy that situation.”

The new pool, expected to be completed by next spring, will be 12,000 square feet with a children’s area, a general swim area and four-lane lap and exercise pool. A separate pool will be constructed with water slides.

The current facility, which will be closed upon the completion of the new facility, is about 3,700 square feet.

Upon hearing the news of the larger pool, a squealing Keely Shorette jumped up and down as her two cousins, visiting from North Carolina, made a beeline across the parking lot to the already bustling pool.

“Fun! Fun! Fun!” she squealed.

At the Kings’ request, the new pool will be named in honor of Beth Pancoe, a Bangor High School graduate who died of leukemia in 1999.

Pancoe’s father, Michael Pancoe, held up an 8-by-10-inch portrait of his daughter, once a diver on the Bangor High School swim team who died during her sophomore year at Northwestern University.

“It was kind of her turf,” said Pancoe, a Bangor radiologist, of the park behind the family’s former home on West Broadway, where the Kings also reside. “This is a very magnanimous thing to do.”

Construction could begin this fall, said city officials, who praised the Kings’ latest gift.

“It is another example of the continuing commitment of Stephen and Tabitha King to support their community and to invest directly in our young citizens,” Bangor Mayor Michael Crowley said.

Over the years, the Kings have donated millions of dollars to various causes and projects in and around the city, including the Maine Discovery Museum, the Bangor Public Library and Cyr Family Field House at the Orono-Old Town YMCA.

The couple’s latest gift will pay for most of the $1.5 million project, with the rest coming from the city’s undesignated fund balance and possibly a $150,000 bond tentatively slated to repair the existing pool, according to city officials.

The new pool will be located down the hill from the existing facility, which will be removed and replaced with a picnic area, according to city officials.

The new complex will be located next to the Hayford Park playground just beyond the left-field fence at Mansfield Stadium, yet another gift from the Kings.