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Conway pool committee submits engineering plans

CONWAY — The Conway Community Swimming Pool Committee has submitted engineering plans to the state to repair and dredge the private 63-year-old community swimming hole.

If all state permits are received, the project would begin in the spring and finish in the fall. Conway residents will have gone without their pool for three summers.

According to the project proposal by West Springfield engineers Fuss & O’Neill, the dam embankments would be repaired, the spillway would be replaced and the upper recreation area would be improved by the time swimmers get to take a dive. The state Environmental Policy Act requires a proposal to be submitted to ensure natural impacts are addressed.

The swimming pool has been closed since the fall of 2010 when a significant sink-hole on the top of the dam above the 30-inch spillway pipe was discovered.

The man-made pond is on 7.3 acres along Pumpkin Hollow Brook. The 2.5-acre pool is impounded by an earthen dam about 200 feet in length and 21 feet high.

Since 1950, it has continuously been run by a community of volunteers, the Conway Swimming Pool Committee, a private, nonprofit organization, which operates the pool independently of town government and relies on private donations and no tax dollars.

In summer 2012, the pool committee hired Fuss & O’Neill to complete permitting and repairs of the pool and to develop a maintenance and operations plan for the future. December’s proposal for repairs and improvements is the first official step the pool committee has taken to re-open the pool.

“We are working hard and will soon have a meeting open to all the residents of Conway when we will have a complete and total estimate and time table for all work that needs to be done on the pool,” wrote James Recore, president of the Pool Committee, in an email.

The proposed project would repair the earthen dam, where structural issues with the spillway pipe have caused sinkholes and washouts along the dam crest. Other maintenance projects include repairing the spillway gate, gears and standpipe of the dam and the diving board on the spillway. In addition, the pond has about 6 inches to 3 feet of sediment. As a result, dredging is needed to maintain the volume of the pool and remove sediment.

Other improvements include beach nourishment to replenish sand lost from the beach and regrading to prevent future sand erosion due to the existing steep slope of the beach.

A major change swimmers can expect is an improved upper recreation area.

There would be a reconfigured parking lot, accessible pathways from the parking area to the picnic area and an accessible dock along the shore. These features would comply with current recreational standards for fully accessible design. A playground will be constructed southwest of the picnic area and the grills and benches will be replaced. Portable sanitary bathrooms and a maintenance shed will be located on the south side of the parking lot. To ensure safety, lighting would be installed along the parking area and walkways. Lastly, a retaining wall will be constructed on the north side of the recreation area for use as a future pavilion.

The project requires several permits before it can begin, including a Dam Safety Permit from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, water quality certifications from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also requires a Conservation and Management permit and order of conditions from the Conway Conservation Commission and state Department of Environmental Protection.

The project takes into account several environmental impacts. The project area is home to the wood turtle, a state-listed rare species listed in the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. The project also borders wetlands. Impacts occur on the upstream and downstream slopes of the dam.

The final costs of the project and how it would be funded remain unknown.

Earlier rough estimates have set costs up to $250,000. To make repairs and keep the pool running, the committee insists it can rely on donations and fundraisers from the town’s roughly 1,900 residents.

However, in the past several years, annual donations to the pool committee had dropped off 75 percent. The committee had a bank balance of less than $3,000 to cover operating costs. It is unknown how much is in the committee’s bank account today.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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