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Pool Bids to be Final Before Town Meeting Vote

A "component design" pool will be out to bid before Annual Town Meetings in Hamilton and Wenham this spring.

The existing Veterans Memorial Pool at Patton Park.
The existing Veterans Memorial Pool at Patton Park.

Voters this spring will have a construction bid amount in front of them when they decide whether to use Community Preservation Act money to pay for a new pool at Patton Park.

That’s what 14 members of both Community Preservation Committees from Hamilton and Wenham were told on Tuesday night, when the two groups met to discuss the next step for construction of a pool.

The existing pool was built in 1952 and is showing signs of its age. Jennifer Scuteri, a member of the Board of Selectmen, said Selectmen have not made a decision about whether the existing pool will open this summer. (See clarification below in comments.)

A $2.5 million plan for a new pool went before Hamilton Town Meeting voters at the fall Town Meeting in Hamilton, asking voters to use CPA money to fund the project. That proposal fell two votes short of the required two-third majority.

Now, the Hamilton-Wenham Recreation Committee is looking at different designs for the pool and the Community Preservation Committees are looking at formalizing a procedure for funding combined projects that sit in just one town.

“The Rec Board will have the final decision about what the pool will look like,” said Dennis Curran, a member of the Recreation Board, adding the board is working now to “get the maximum usage from the minimum dollars.”

That design would then go before the CPC in each town for funding. In the fall, the Hamilton CPC backed using CPA money for the project, while the Wenham committee turned down a proposal to fund about a third of the cost, $800,000, from Community Preservation Act money.

Weston and Sampson, a pool design firm, is working with the Recreation Committee now to come up with a new design that will include “components” and a “modular design” that will include various parts that can be included or not, to control costs.

That design will be complete and out to bid on Feb. 20 and due on March 12, according to Hamilton Finance Director Deborah Nippes-Mena. That will be before the Annual Town Meeting in both Hamilton and Wenham, which is scheduled for April 6.

“On March 13, we will definitely know…how much the pool will cost,” Nippes-Mena said.

On Tuesday, some member of the audience continued to focus on the reticence of the Wenham committee to fund the pool.

“I’m not hearing a commitment from my town at all,” Wenham resident Patrick Waddell said, pointing toward the Wenham CPC.

While Wenham CPC member Leo Maestranzi said he was inclined to support using CPA money on the pool, he noted that: “We do have some cash, but we have some projects that are important to us,” he said.

There is a proposal to build an affordable senior housing project on property behind Burnett’s garage on Maple Street. It would push Wenham over its required 10 percent affordable housing and the project would likely count on CPA money to fund a portion of it.

The cooperation of the two towns in funding the pool could create an example for communities working together to use CPA money, said Peter Britton, a member of the Hamilton committee who was filling in as chairman on Tuesday night.

“Many eyes will be on us as we move forward,” Britton said, noting the only other place in the state where CPA money have been spent cooperatively is by towns on Martha’s Vineyard.

Community Preservation Act money comes from a property tax surcharge that is also matched with state money. CPA money can go toward funding projects such as recreation, affordable housing and open space.

Since the CPA was adopted in the two towns in 2008, a total of $186,700 of Hamilton money and $94,700 in Wenham money has been spent on combined projects, including a new cupola on the Community House of Hamilton-Wenham, in Hamilton, and a new parking lot for Pleasant Pond in Wenham, on property just over the line in Hamilton.

Jennifer Scuteri January 08, 2014 at 10:16 AM
Bobby, thanks for a great article and thanks to the Wenham CPC for a great meeting. As a clarification, the Hamilton BoS does not decide if the pool is open this summer. Our Town Manager and FinCom will present a budget that may or may not include the one-year costs to open the pool, taking into consideration all the current health and safety violations and input from our Rec Director and Joint Rec Committee The BoS provides feedback and input to this process and then recommends (or doesn't recommend) the Town budget to Town Meeting. It is Town Meeting that ultimately approves the budget.

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