Several local establishments were expected to reopen on Wednesday, May 20, the date marked by Gov. Ned Lamont for the beginning of what will be a phased-in approach to getting Connecticut’s economy and community life back up and running.
However, one facility that won’t be opening anytime soon—even when certain restrictions are lifted—is the Cheshire Community Pool.
At the budget presentation for the Pool back in April, Aquatics Director Sheila Adams informed the Town Council that a large amount of money, anywhere from $109,000 to $150,000, would need to be allocated for a brand new pool liner, after it was recently discovered that the current liner has multiple tears. The problem was discovered after the pool was drained due to COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“We just recently walked the pool and found about 10 new tears in the liner in addition to the ones that are already there,” Adams explained.
At the most recent budget meeting on May 13, the Town discussed two vendors which had requested the opportunity to repair the damage.
“We received two quotes for replacing the liner; one is from an out-of-state company and the other is CT Custom Aquatics, who we’ve used before,” explained Town Manager Sean Kimball.
Adams went on to explain that, while the out-of-state vendor originally offered a lower price than did CT Customs Aquatics—the cost to begin the installation in June would be about $135,230—they could not guarantee they would be finished by the time the Cheshire Pool would be allowed to reopen.
“By going with the other vendor, we would have to wait a significant amount of time for them to begin the process,” Kimball added. “And we would have to delay the opening even more after the restrictions have been lifted.”
“CT Custom Aquatics can begin the tear-out process like, next week, whereas the other company wouldn’t start until June,” Adams continued.
The Council ultimately decided to hire CT Customs Aquatics to replace the liner for a price of approximately $144,000, which would include demolition and reinstallation of an entirely new pool liner, and an additional 15 year warranty on the liner. The other company was only offering 10 years.
The tear-out process was scheduled to begin this week, with the hope that the Pool liner is ready by June 14.
Although the motion passed unanimously, many Council members voiced their opinion about the timing of this particular request, and how this could be avoided in the future.
“… It sounds like this was just dropped on us. All of a sudden we need $140,000 for a new liner… I’m not sure why this isn’t a capital budget thing?” asked Councilor Don Walsh. “If we know the lifespan of a new liner is 10 or 12 years, that should be something that is built in rather than dropped on us right in the middle of the budget hearings.”
Kimball responded to Walsh by informing the Council that the Town has not had an in-depth replacement schedule for the pool, but assured the Council it is something he is working on.
Chair Rob Oris expressed similar sentiments to Walsh.
“We need to have some forward-looking budgeting looking at the age and life expectancy of the equipment. It seems to me like we are very reactive with this pool and not very proactive, and it's certainly, in my opinion, now impacting our ability as a Council to properly plan going forward…,” he stated.
At the end of the budget meeting, Director of the Parks Department John Gawlak, assured the Council that in the next year he plans to hire an independent party to come and take a look at the pool, and then reccomend any changes. No timeline was offered as to when that would take place.