Newton Town Council gets go-ahead to make repairs and upgrades to swimming pool with intentions to reopen it for the 2020 swim season.
NEWTON - The Town Council gave Town Manager Thomas S. Russo the go-ahead to put together bid specifications to make repairs and upgrade the swimming pool in Memory Park with the intent to reopen in time for the 2020 swim season.
At Wednesday's council meeting, representatives from Suburban Consulting Engineers presented the results of their study of the pool which was closed for the 2019 swim season after the council was told it would take $250,000 to make repairs to the 60-year-old pool.
The closure brought out an organized effort at each of the council's meetings, urging the council to make a commitment to reopen the facility and protesting the closing. But the council said it needed to get professionals in to ensure that all problems with the pool were detailed and a thorough report brought back to them.
The company's report included three options with prices ranging from $200,000 up to an estimated minimum of $800,000 for a new pool.
The council's directive was to go with the second option, with a price range of $325,000-$375,000, but with the bid specifications to include an alternative of cutting down the depth of the “deep end” of the pool to about nine feet.
The report suggests that work be done to relieve any groundwater pressure on the pool, which has a concrete shell of about 8-10 inches of concrete coated on the interior with up to three inches of plaster.
It is that plaster, which waterproofs the concrete and provides a smooth surface for those in the pool, that was the cause of most concern as the pool was being closed down at the end of the 2019 season.
In the year-end report, it was noted that extensive repair would be needed to get the pool open for this season. During budget preparation, Russo said that the cost estimates led him to recommend that the council get engineers to make a thorough investigation of the pool, including a study of the groundwater and integrity of the overall structure.
In general, the engineers said the pool is in “general poor” condition, mostly because of “extensive plaster finish cracking and failure, missing tiles, uneven floor surfaces, loose coping blocks.” The report said the poor condition of the plaster was because of a slip-shod job done by the re-plastering contractor in 2015.
Suburban said it's recommendations in option two included bringing the pool access into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, more graduated stair access, and removing the plaster and applying a new plaster coat.
The work would also include starting blocks for swim races, something the pool has lacked since it was built.
At one time, there were diving boards at the deep end of the pool, where the water is 12-13 feet deep, but diving has been prohibited for several years. In that area, the pool has a couple of water slides.
What drew much of the interest and discussion was the proposal to bring the bottom of the pool up to about a nine-foot depth. In the space between the “new” bottom and the existing bottom, the engineers proposed to fill the space with crushed rock and drain pipes.
The work would also open up the existing bottom to allow ground water to flow into the rock-filled void, and flow out through the drain pipes into the existing storm drain system in Memory Park.
With the water allowed to flow freely, it will greatly diminish the pressure of the groundwater against the outside of the pool.
During the public question-and-answer session, Mayor Helen Le Frois asked speakers which of the three options people preferred. Of the 17 who spoke, she counted four who went with option one, nine who like option two and four who, as one woman phrased it: “option one plus or two minus.”
Councilman Jason Schleffer said he liked the idea of expanding the access area for those with handicaps or disabilities, believing they stay away from the pool now because there is limited access.
“This would open up a whole new population for the pool,” he said.
During the session, he also announced that Thorlabs had offered a $50,000 donation/grant to the town to help pay for the work at the pool and expressed hope other businesses might also step forward.
“Let's do what we can to get it open,” said Councilman Matt Dickson.
He said once the pool is opened, the council can then look at other improvements, such as a splash pad, “more and better food and maybe night activities.”
Deputy Mayor Dan Flynn said he understands the option behind the work on the deep end of the pool and agreed with the engineers that such work would help extend the life of the pool.
Councilwoman Sandra Diglio agreed with with the final hybrid proposal of a combination of ADA and youngster access with an alternative add-on for the deep end drainage.
Also at the meeting, the council approved the bid of $160,900 from Weatherproof Technologies of Beechwood, Ohio for a new roof over the municipal building and police department.