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January 13. 2014 8:07PM

Claremont council sets April deadline to save outdoor pool

CLAREMONT — City councilors voted Jan. 8 to demolish the John McClane Clark Outdoor Pool at Veterans Park in April if no one comes forward with a viable plan to save it.

The declining use of the outdoor pool by the public doesn’t warrant a costly renovation, City Manager Guy Santagate said.

“We decided it was too much for us to support,” Santagate said.

Resident and County Commissioner Jeffrey Barrette, who petitioned to save the pool last year, said that simply isn’t enough time to come up with a plan and said he is baffled at the city’s plan to destroy a city resource.

“I’m really shocked that the City Council would be in the position to throw away a public facility, with no need for that space and no plan in place to use it,” Barrette said. “I’m passionate about this. I’m not a swimmer. I’m a longtime resident, and I hate to see public resources go away because I know they will never come back.”

The city had planned to demolish the pool last year on the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Department when Barrette, opposing the demolition, circulated a petition against it.

In October, a report compiled by a firm hired by the city to study the pool confirmed that repairs to the pool would not be worth the money.

The Boston-based firm, Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc., said that an investment of about $460,000 by the city to reopen the current pool and bathhouse would not be a cost-effective use of funds.

“The work would reopen a pool that has been available to the city for decades; however, the repairs do not provide a long-term solution to the continued high maintenance costs associated with operating the pool, or provide a permanent fix to the pool tank. As we noted above and in the report, the problems that exist today existed in 1994. This also does not address the bathhouse needs for programmatic, permanent structural repairs, and full compliance for individuals with disabilities,” the report said.

Built in the 1950s, the outdoor pool was last renovated in the 1970s. It was closed two summers ago because the large amounts of water leaking made chlorinating the pool properly difficult, creating a potential public health issue. The 35-year-old gutter system appears to be the source of the pool leaks.

On Monday, Barrette said he continues to contest the Parks and Recreation’s analysis of the pool that he says were used as the basis of the Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype report.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department had supported the demolition and proposed a $250,000 outdoor splash park to replace it.

The community has an indoor pool at the recently opened Claremont Savings Bank Community Center.

The John McClane Clark Outdoor Pool was open eight weeks out of the year.

mpierce@newstote.com


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