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Conway Swimming Pool group needs to raise $193,000 in 4 months

Recorder/Peter MacDonald
The Dock and the raft at the Conway swimming pool

Recorder/Peter MacDonald The Dock and the raft at the Conway swimming pool

CONWAY — The Conway Swimming Pool Committee has a little over four months to raise $193,000 to stay on target to repair the swimming hole off Whately Road in time for the summer of 2014.

On top of that, the volunteer group would like another $235,000 for optional accessibility improvements.

As a result, the pool committee is in search of a resident with large-scale fundraising experience.

“None of us have focused on fundraising,” said James Recore, the committee president.

The pool committee — a private, nonprofit organization of volunteers — held its first public meeting Tuesday at the Conway Grammar School since the pool closed in the fall of 2010. The meeting was essentially a kick-off to what the committee hopes is a successful community-wide fundraising effort.

The committee has run the man-made swimming hole since 1950. The committee operates the pool independently of town government and relies on private donations and not tax dollars.

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

The dam needs to be repaired, the pool needs to be dredged and the beach needs replenishing.

Plans call for repair to the earthen dam, where structural issues with the spillway pipe have caused sinkholes and washouts along the dam crest. Other projects include repairing the spillway gate, gears and standpipe and the diving board on the spillway. In addition, the pond has about 6 inches to 3 feet of sediment. Dredging is needed to maintain the volume of the pool and to remove about 3,000 cubic yards of sediment or about 175 large dump-truck loads of 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 concrete wall would be installed to help protect the sand in the swimming area from washing into the main body of the pool. A gravel roadway would be constructed from the existing parking area along the south property line for future dredging access.

In summer 2012, the pool committee hired engineering consultants Fuss & O’Neill to complete permitting and repair designs for the pool and to develop a maintenance and operations plan for the future. But before engineers and contractors can begin working on the pool, the pool committee needs seven permits. To date, the committee does not have any permits.

“The permitting process is a long and extensive one. The majority of applications are being submitted in February and responses can take months. We expect all necessary permits to be in place by July 1,” said Craig Warner, secretary of the pool committee.

Required permits are the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Environmental Notification Form, the MassDEP 401 Water Quality Certification, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 Individual, Wetlands Protection Act Notice of Intent, the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act Project Review, a state dam safety permit and Section 106 Coordination Mass. Historical and Tribes.

The total estimated project cost is $563,000, counting optional work and what has been spent so far. The cost of mandatory work — engineering and permit preparation, permit fees and dam repairs and dredging — is $328,000.

Of the $328,000, the committee has raised $135,000, of which $123,000 came from the town community preservation fund in May 2011. Another $12,000 is from private donations.

The remaining project cost, $235,000, is optional. This would cover accessibility improvements, which includes handicapped parking, grading, accessible walkways, and water accessible platforms and docks. Safety features include lighting along the parking area and walkways.

Of the money raised, the pool committee has spent $54,000 on engineering and permitting services from Fuss & O’Neill and permit fees. This is expected to be $94,000 by the end of the project.

Town money?

To cover the costs for accessibility improvements, the committee requested funding from the M&M Germain Trust from the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 3.

To date, the committee has not heard back from the selectboard. Without the trust funding, the committee does not intend to do the accessibility and rehabilitation improvements. Selectman Chairman John O’Rourke recently said the board is waiting for advice from town counsel on whether the pool is an appropriate use of the money. The pool committee is scheduled to meet with the selectmen at their meeting on Monday at Town Office.

The M&M Germain Trust Fund is used and expended at the discretion of the selectboard for the rehabilitation of needy handicapped children and for college scholarships.

As of September 2012, the trust fund had a balance of $771,162, of which $386,010 is expendable interest.

The committee hopes to get as much as possible of the accessibility and rehabilitation improvements done by local contractors. Costs do not include playground equipment, grills and picnic tables.

The committee does not want funding from corporate or public sources outside the people of Conway. Recore explained it would create issues — mainly it would open the pool to nonresidents and drive up costs.

Although the pool has long been run without taxpayer money, the pool committee has not ruled out that financial source. And many of the 100 residents present at the meeting favored placing an article on the annual town meeting warrant requesting a one-time contribution.

“The pool is an asset to the town. I don’t see why you wouldn’t reach in their pocket for a minute,” said Ed Rose, a resident. “We’re dealing with something that has never happened before at the pool. It’ll take more than a bake sale to fix it.”

There are questions that must be answered first, including whether using taxpayer money would open the town up to liabilities or force the pool to have life guards. And whether the town has the ability to give money to a tax exempt organization.

The pool committee has looked at grants as a funding source, but have not pursued any.

“There is always a catch, a hook. There’s always strings attached. We don’t want to be a puppet,” Recore said.

If the pool committee doesn’t come up with the money, Recore said the pool will remain closed and the project would be delayed.

The pool committee has set a time line for project completion. Through June 2013, it would submit permits for review. Until July 2013, it plans to raise money. From May to June 2013, it would put the project out to bid for construction to take place between July and August 2013. By the summer of 2014, the pool committee plans to open the pool.

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

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