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News: Wallingford Community Pool project faces hurdles

Date Published Author
10/1/2018 12:00:00 AM  Record Journal 

Wallingford Community Pool project faces hurdles 


A proposed design for renovations at Wallingford Community Pool, as presented to Town Council by Parks and Recreation Department on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. | Contributed

 
 
reporter photo
September 30, 2018 07:26PM

WALLINGFORD — A proposed renovation of the Community Pool property has a few more hurdles to clear before the plan becomes a reality.
The Town Council recently heard a presentation by parks and recreation officials on the proposed plan, which includes demolishing the existing pool and adding two new pools in the same general footprint.
The rest of the North Main Street Extension property would be developed into a multi-use park, including a splash pad, playground equipment, a fitness playground, sand volleyball court, food service concession stand, refurbished bath house, picnic area and seasonal entertainment pavilion.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the next step would be for the town to develop a document for hiring an architect for technical design and engineering.
John Gawlak, parks and recreation director, said the pool committee is working on draft specifications for the RFP, and then the town purchasing department puts it out to bid.
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Once architectural plans are complete, the town would put the project out to bid. After that, funding would need to be approved for construction.
The plan also needs support from residents. 
The pool is open to town residents only, a policy started in 2012 after the near-drowning of a New Haven child. The parks and recreation department sold 2,496 pool passes this year, compared with 1,960 last year. In 2010, 5,300 passes were sold.
“It hasn’t always been easy or convenient to take advantage of the pool,” Alida Cella said Friday. 
Cella, who lives in the center of town and has three children, runs the Save Our Pool Facebook page.
She was at the Town Council meeting and said she’s excited about the proposal.
“This is going to be a crown jewel for Wallingford,” Cella said. “It will be a boost to property values in town, to businesses right in that area.”
Despite co-administering the pool preservation Facebook page, she’s not a regular user of the pool, she said, due to time limitations.
The pool is generally is open for eight to nine weeks from late June until August from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
“I’ve taken advantage of it when I could,” she said, adding that operating the pool is like running a business, and if pool isn’t open when customers want to come, it’s not going to be convenient.
She started the Facebook group to be a part of encouraging the town to upgrade and update its resources, she said.
She supports day passes and opening the pool to non-residents.
“It shouldn’t be a hidden thing we squirrel away and don’t share,” she said. 
The projected cost range would be $4.5 million to $6 million.
Dickinson said there’s no money set aside for the project right now, and the town would probably need an ordinance authorizing borrowing.
While he didn’t comment directly on whether property taxes would be impacted, he said that borrowing incurs principal and interest costs, and that affects taxes.
“Ultimately,” Dickinson said, “no matter what money you use, if its purchasing or receiving or borrowing, the money you use is no longer available for other purposes, so that impacts future expenses.”
He added that the plan probably would need approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
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