With town officials recommending a potential bonding package for the November ballot, a group of citizens is questioning why Mills Pond Pool is not on the list.
First Selectman Richard Barlow confirmed Thursday morning that he has received several letters about the matter and resident Rob D. Miller has published an online letter and petition, which can be found here.
The letter advocates a “significant upgrade” and “replacement of the 50-meter pool.” While the borrowing climate is favorable.
“Given the current low interest rate environment, we have a unique opportunity to affordably finance important quality of life projects that will benefit our community for future generations,” the letter states.
As of late Thursday morning, 46 had signed the petition. As of 2:30 p.m. it was 66 and at 11 p.m. it was 129.
Earlier this year, a capital projects study committee looked at several town infrastructure needs, prioritized them and recommended the town fund four in a “bonding package” that would go to the voters at the November election. (The finance board has not yet acted on the idea).
The four project were:
- “Pavement management,” including major projects on several town roads and the and parking lots.
- Major roof repairs and partial replacement at the community center and all three schools.
- A new highway garage, including construction and property acquisition.
- A track and multi-use synthetic field at Canton High School.
At the time, the price tag for all four was estimated at $18 million but town officials now peg it at $20 to $22 million.
Miller said he would like to see the town continue to sharpen their pencils and with a pool study complete, a successful swim team and much community interest, include the pool in a package.
"There's a lot of energy around the pool right now," Miller said. "Clearly the community sees it as a priority."
The Boards of Selectmen and Finance meet Monday to hear updates on the projects and no final decision has been made.
While the town was well aware that the pool needs attention, a town commission study of the structure was not completed when the capital group met, officials have said.
“The capital study committee did not identify the pool as a project ready to go,” Barlow said. “I understand people want to have the pool upgraded and improved.”
But the pool is on the town’s radar, Barlow said. The study contained some short, mid- and long-term recommendations and some of the immediate ones, including safety measures were addressed, Barlow said. In addition, selectmen have agreed that the town will most likely apply for Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) Grant from the state office of policy and management, which provides up to $500,000 but often less, for town projects.
As far as adding it to the potential bonding package, Barlow said it’s not likely. Even if the Board of Finance, which has not made a decision on bonding, wanted to add items, there are others identified in the capital study group’s report.
In addition, Barlow said he is not convinced replacement of an outdoor 50-meter pool with a 9-week season is not the best long-term solution.
“I would rather invest more money and have an indoor pool at the high school that could support high-school athletes and give the residents the benefit of a year-round facility.”
Miller said he is not opposed to an indoor facility but does feel the 50-meter size can be a great revenue generator since there are so few around.
Another option some towns use is a dome to extend the season, he added.
And Miller does feel there is enough information in the study to add the pool to any potential package while interest rates are low.
"We may not have another bite at the apple to do all these things," he said.