WATERTOWN – Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith released a report showing the cost of repairing the North Elementary School swimming pool soared to $ 735,000, raising eyebrows that it became public just days before the November 2.
Describing it as his October surprise, Mayor Smith’s political rivals accuse the mayor of trying to influence the council race by releasing the Flynn Pool report just eight days before the election.
The subject of the jackpot will be on the agenda for Monday’s board meeting, the day before polling day. Council members received the report over the weekend.
“I find it very suspicious that it is a day before election day,” said city councilor Lisa A. Ruggiero, adding that she hoped that a decision would not be taken that evening on the fate of the pool. Flynn.
“I would like more time to decide.”
Councilor Leonard G. Spaziani, who pushed the city to operate three swimming pools, has been inquiring about the status of the Alteri swimming pool, located at the Alex T. Duffy exhibition center, for several months.
He, too, questioned the timing of the report.
“It’s all of a sudden, it’s here,” he said, wondering why the report is released so close to when voters go to the polls to decide on the city council race .
Mayor Smith defended the timing of the report’s release, saying City Councilor Spaziani had applied for his status on several occasions – and that’s when it was completed, he said.
Repairing the pool has become a campaign issue, with council candidates divided on the issue. Two years ago, Mayor Smith campaigned that the city only needed two swimming pools, not three.
In his two-page analysis, City Engineer Michael Delaney determined it would cost $ 735,000 to repair the Flynn Pool at North Elementary School.
Stressing that the city shouldn’t spend that kind of money on a facility that is only used three months a year, Mayor Smith said the Flynn Pool needed plumbing and its shell replaced, so the project would end “essentially with a new swimming pool”.
“It’s the cost, and it’s not cheap,” he said.
City Councilor Sarah V. Compo-Pierce also agreed that the city cannot afford the $ 735,000 prize.
“A bandage of almost a million dollars to try to fix this asset for just 10 years is expensive,” she said.
In a note to council members, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix wrote that the cost of $ 735,000 “is considered the most optimistic scenario as it assumes that there will be no major structural deficiencies in the building. shell when the surface is removed.
“The repairs included in this estimate should give the pool, perhaps, 10 years more life.”
Instead, a long-term solution might be to replace the pool as was done with the Thompson Park pool two years ago, Mr Mix wrote. This pool cost $ 3.1 million, although the school’s existing public bathhouse could be salvaged, reducing the overall cost of the project, he said.
The city was set to demolish the Alteri Pool until it became known that the Flynn Pool was the one in need of all repairs.
Repairs prevented these two swimming pools from opening last summer. Only the Thompson Park pool was open in the summer.
According to a memo, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Scott D. Weller wrote that 18,511 people swam in the Thompson Park pool last summer, roughly the same number who used it in the past summer. last five summers.
This information proves that three swimming pools are not necessary, said Mayor Smith. But Councilor Ruggiero stressed that attendance was affected by COVID, saying she believed more people would use the pool if the pandemic did not occur last summer.
As to what would happen if it were taken out of service, board members Compo-Pierce and Ryan Henry-Wilkinson pointed out that the Flynn Pool needs to be replaced, especially since it is on the north side of the city.
The city’s other two swimming pools are located in other parts of the city.
City Councilor Henry-Wilkinson said he would only agree to the demolition of the Flynn Pool if it was replaced with another facility.
City Councilor Compo-Pierce suggested a playground with the ability to turn it into an ice rink, so that it can be used throughout the year, while City Councilor brought up the idea of a mountain bike facility.
While Councilor Ruggiero was adamant the decision would not be made at Monday night’s meeting, Councilor Compo-Pierce said the decision should be made by the next council taking office in January.
Mayor Smith noted that the decision would ultimately be made during next year’s budget deliberations, regardless of whether the current council agrees to go ahead with the repairs.
The mayor said he only released the report after seeing only part of it had been posted on social media and that he believed the full report should be made available.
Mr Mix said he distributed the report on Friday to give council members a full week to study it.
Due to a reporter error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which pools Watertown City Councilor Leonard G. Spaziani sought status from Mayor Jeffrey E. Smith. Mr. Spaziani only asked about the Alteri Pool at the Alex T. Duffy Exhibition Center.