By Chris Maza
Work on the Pine Knoll Recreation Area pool is on target to be completed in time for a June 23 opening, according the Director of Recreation Colin Drury.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
EAST LONGMEADOW – Work on the pool at the Pine Knoll Recreation Area will be completed in time for the summer swimming season.
Director of Recreation Colin Drury told Reminder Publications the project was “dead on” in terms of schedule and budget for the total renovation of the pool, for which Community Preservation Act funds were used with residents’ approval at Town Meeting.
“We fell about a week behind at one point with all the rain we were getting and you can’t weld in the rain, but the guys from the company were able to make those days back up,” he said. “We’re still on target and are two or three weeks out from a completed project.”
Drury said the pool is scheduled to open on June 23 and planning for an opening celebration is in the works.
The project did have a false start right off the bat in terms of funding from which it had to recover.
Residents initially approved a $450,000 expenditure that Drury requested at the Oct. 1, 2012, Special Town Meeting, based on a budget developed by an outside consulting firm. However, when the town went out to bid, it received a quote of $735,000 and a separate $350,000 appropriation was requested and approved at the Oct. 21, 2013, Special Town Meeting.
With the new information and funding, the town put the project out to big again and Kurtz Inc. General Contractors of Westfield was the lowest bidder at $687,892. Drury credited the company with making sure the project remained on schedule.
“They have been amazing,” he said. “The amount of professionalism they brought to the project was exactly what I expected.”
The town purchased the pool, which was originally built in 1959, and the surrounding area in 1996 for $265,000.
“The summer program has been run without the use of tax dollars ever since. The programs are totally self-sufficient and will continue to be going forward,” Drury said, adding that money collected through snack bar sales funded a renovation of the boys’ locker and changing facilities recently.
The pool was in urgent need of repair as it was not in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and it lost water at a rate of 300,000 gallons per season, Drury explained.
“The DPW did some work on it that brought [water loss] from 7,000 gallons a day to 4,000,” he said. “But this pool is going to save the town a considerable amount of money because that water was well water and city water, so we were getting charged for that.”
The new pool, which is larger than its predecessor, features an L shape design that allows for a beach-style entry and two other handicap accessible entry points. With the added size, Drury said the summer camps could continue operation without constraints.
“With its size, the old pool was eventually going to phase us out and we were going to have to start putting limits on the number of kids we could accept,” he said. “That constraint is going to be lifted a little bit because we can do a lot more now.”
The pool will also feature an area suitable for small children and those who are not strong swimmers that will include a set of water features, similar to the ones seen at splash parks.
In addition to the summer camp programs at Pine Knoll, the pool will allow the town to conduct Red Cross water safety and lifeguarding classes, Drury said, explaining that the five-foot-deep pool that existed previously was not deep enough for those programs. The new pool is eight and a half feet deep.
The East Longmeadow Marlins summer swim team will also host meets in the pool, which can accommodate six competitive lanes.
The pool also features a new filtering system and a renovated area to house it.
“It’s an automated system. It’s essentially a smart phone for chlorine,” Drury said. “It has the ability to keep all the levels correct, so that provides a huge amount of safety for kids and families.”
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