Town officials plan to move forward with improvements at Mills Pond Pool but some questions remain about completing the work.
Recently the town received a second set of bids for work at the pool but the total again exceeded the $400,000 approved by town boards and voters last fall. The work was designed to pay for upgraded aboveground mechanical systems, an outbuilding for them, new decking and some work on the shell itself, such as removal of pool lights.
With architectural fees of $41,000, the town has about $359,00 to work with but the lowest bid this round came in at $450,900.
The town does have enough to proceed with some improvements, including the new mechanical systems, outbuilding and related work and utilities.
The shortfall of some $91,900, however, leaves new decking for the 40-year-old pool up in the air.
Selectmen agreed they would not go back to the Board of Finance to seek that much.
Lowell Humphrey said it would be nearing $500,000 for an “8-year band-aid for the pool.”
Officials did have some ideas to try and find some savings. Michael P. Fortuna, principal with TLB Architecture of Chester, and officials plan to see if low bidder Construction Services of New England would work Millennium Builders as a subcontractor. The second company put in a bid that was higher overall but quoted approximately $34,100 less for the outbuilding.
Thursday morning, first Selectman Richard Barlow said the town would see if it could find other ways to "close that gap."
He agreed the difference of $91,000 was too much to seek in additional funding but did not rule out seeking additional money.
“Realistically we’re not bonding for a pool in the next 8 to 10 years,” Barlow said Wednesday night.
While Fortuna selectmen that some simpler decking safety repairs could be done, the issues also involve drainage, which is important to the integrity of the pool itself, officials said.
Park and Recreation commissioner Ben Holden said he felt improvements would bring the life expectancy of the pool closer to 10 to 12 years and department director Brian Wilson said the mechanical systems could carry over to a new facility should the town eventually move in that direction.