Community Preservation Act (CPA) Request – Memorial Pool Renovation Design Fees

Weston’s Memorial Pool, from CPC presentation 10/26/2020

There are five requests for Weston CPA funds this spring. In no particular order, but rather the order in which I am paying attention to them, I thought I’d take a look at the general requests. Note that this proposal for Memorial Pool Renovation went throuh public hearing in October 2020 and will be on the Town Meeting agenda.

On October 26, 2020, Recreation Commissioner Melissa Crocker presented this CPA funds request at a public meeting held on zoom. The request is for design funds for “incremental improvement” to Memorial Pool, a local watering hole since forever. The recording of this meeting is available here.

Town Pond before Town Pool arrived in 1951. From Weston Historical Society Bulletin, May 1982

Let’s take a step back in time, shall we? The original Town Pool was at the corner of Boston Post Road by-pass and School Street. It was actually called the “Town Bath.” I have lots to say about it but Weston Media Center beat me to it and here is the link for that recording. In 1951, the Town Pool was moved to its current location near Country and Woodland schools, but was still a sandy-bottomed “polio pond” as I heard it termed during the meeting. Cows swam there but had to have badges. No, they didn’t–Pam Fox is going to find me soon enough…the incarnation with concrete pool joy was built in the 1970s.

Oh, before I go on, full disclosure is that I was on the Recreation Master Plan Steering Committee until September 2020, and a lot of this was discussed while I was there. But in this post, I am specifically referring to information presented at the October 26, 2020 CPC meeting.

A Memorial Pool renovation feasibility study was done in October 2019 (at a cost of only $1800 from CPC funds, pretty good) . There’s a lot that could be done with our old pool. And some issues were decided to be more important that others. First and foremost is an aging filtration system that needs to be replaced urgently to allow for the continued “proper operation” of the pool. As in, do you want to swim like a cow would (not even sure they swim) or like a person? You can put your answer in the comments.

The current filtration system was built to last 25-30 years, and guess what? We’re in year 27. For whom the bell tolls, is our giant filtering equipment. This is not the air filter in your car, folks, nor in your coffee. It’s big time:

Yuck on the left. New and blue on the right. From 10/26/2020 CPC presenttion.

If you want a positive side of this, know that our pool filter has only made it so long because of an amazing maintenance program. But there is only so long that we can maintain without replacement. And know that the filtration removes dirt, insects, hair, cows (just checking if you are reading) and other stuff you don’t want to know about. It’s also required by the Board of Health and is the only way we get those nice pool chemicals distributed nicely so we don’t get nasty stuff. “Nasty” is the technical term.

In addition to the filtration renovation, there are plans to improve accessibility –while Memorial Pool is up to code on the actual pool, it is not up to code on the bath house or the concession area. So you can get in the pool, but you can’t get to the bath house to ummm, well, do other stuff. This will add accessible pathways (read: concrete).

Sorry but grass has got to go for accessibility. From 10/26/2020 CPC meeting

Amenities are also part of the renovation plan. Before my favorite Town Meeting characters get worked up, this is not about seeing the pool’s “toys” from Outer Space. This is about upping the level of fun for the young ones. I don’t know about you but I’m not getting in the slide. What if I can’t get out? I am going to post a photo here but y’all can’t get crazy about it. These are not “our” toys. They belong to Needham and Newton and we will have our own toys. Ours will be better, naturally.

Again, these are NOT OUR PROPOSED TOYS. From 10/26/2020 CPC meeting

As part of the project, there will also be an improved check-in area that will be expanded from 100 square feet to 300 square feet. You will actually be able to get a badge on the spot instead of having to go to the Recreation Department when it is open. We are entering the 21st century 21 years late, Weston, which is pretty much standard for us. Also there will be a taco stand. Oh wait, I drifted off for a second. There will be an improved concession stand but it looks like we’re going all-American with hamburgers and hot dogs and microwaveable items. Honestly, folks, it’s Weston, how do you all feel about sushi?

Originally the project was to include a renovation inside the bath houses as well but the Recreation Commission decided to remove that item as our bath house meets state codes…and it would have cost an additional $2 million. Yikes. So, yes, what is this all going to cost?

Well, the ask if for $250,000 in design fees from CPA funds. That’s design, folks, not including the expected final costs of construction of $1.9 million-$2.2 million. In case anyone thinks that is a humongous cost, try looking over at Splash Mountain Needham–their new pool cost $14 million, and it doesn’t even serve edamame.

When the floor was opened to questions, Nina Danforth spoke for keeping the wooded areas along the pool–definitely a highlight of our town pool. The trees are not in danger except for the dead ones, and those need to go. Susan Zacharias chimed in that she thought that the data on pool usage and public support for this seem “spotty.” The response to that, and again I was on this committee so grain of salt, is that the Recreation Master Plan Committee had several public comment forums, printed surveys, and online surveys. Additionally, it was pointed out that the Rec Master Plan Committee has representatives from School Committee, Rec Commission, most youth sports groups as well as at-large appointed members. They should be “reasonably entrusted” to know what the town wants, or what are they doing on that committe anyway?

The best part of the meeting then came when various folks spoke about what the Community Pool meant to them: Community. Ken Newberg commented that the pool is a place to “preserve our identity and not push people out to the surrounding towns.” A past president of COA reminded the listeners that the pool is a community resource and is not about making money (though I swear if tacos were there, it could make some big bucks). As she eloquently put it, the pool is a place “where paths cross”–it’s used by all generations and has been since the 1970s.

And finally, it seems right that we review why Community Preservation Act funds exist. From Weston’s town page:

Recreation has been one of the least used areas for CPA funds. So let’s see, Weston, if we believe in the pool as important to the community, or not. Town Meeting this spring.

Yippee! It’s 47 degrees in the pool and I love it. From CPC meeting 10/26/2020

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