AG OKs trust fund for Conway pool fixes

CONWAY — The state Attorney General’s Office has approved the use of the M&M Germain Trust fund for the Conway Swimming Pool.

“The Attorney General’s Office/Public Charities Division does not require a court proceeding for the town of Conway to expend funds from the entitled town trust to make the Conway Community Swimming Pool accessible for individuals with disabilities,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Johanna Soris in an email to Town Counsel John Fitzgibbon and Northampton attorney Thomas Lesser.

The pool committee — a private, nonprofit organization of volunteers that has run the pool since 1950 — requested $235,000 of trust fund money from the Selectboard.

“It’s an important step for us. I don’t believe we’ll take a step backwards at this point,” said Pool Committee President James Recore.

The trust fund is used at the discretion of the Selectboard for the rehabilitation of needy handicapped children and for college scholarships. The trust fund has a balance of $771,162, of which $386,010 is expendable interest.

Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke said the attorney general’s opinion was one the board wanted before it made its decision.

The second opinion the Selectboard wants is that of the townspeople. The Selectboard will ask town residents for their blessing at a special town meeting on March 18.

If the townspeople gives their OK, the pool group would need an additional $193,000 to actually repair and fix the swimming hole.

The pool closed in the fall of 2010 after the committee discovered significant bypass and sinkhole issues with the earthen dam that impounds Pumpkin Hollow Brook.

The $193,000 is required to open the pool, while the money for accessibility improvements is optional, the pool group has said. To open the pool by the summer of 2014, the pool group has set a four-month deadline to raise funds for repairs.

The trust fund money would support accessibility improvements at the pool — specially designed accessible platforms, docks, and transfer areas — to help people in wheelchairs access the water.

The attorney general’s opinion settles a debate between Fitzgibbon and Lesser. While Fitzgibbon advised the Selectboard that the pool would be an inappropriate use of the money, Lesser, a Conway resident, stepped up with a counter opinion.

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

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