Buckland faces $332K deficit on pool project

  • A conceptual design for Buckland’s community pool and pool house, slated be built on the site of the previous pool facility at the Buckland Recreation Area on Ashfield Road (Route 112). CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

  • Kuth Ranieri Architects has designed the new Buckland community pool. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2022 6:11:35 PM
Modified: 7/6/2022 6:08:57 PM

BUCKLAND — After community pool bids came in higher than expected, the Finance Committee and Recreation Committee have recommended holding a Special Town Meeting to reallocate funding that had been set aside for a salt shed to make up the $331,936 difference.

“Bids came in, and they were not what we wanted,” Town Administrator Heather Butler said during a joint meeting Tuesday of the Finance Committee, Recreation Committee and Selectboard.

The new pool and poolhouse is slated be built on the site of the previous pool facility at the Buckland Recreation Area on Ashfield Road (Route 112). The former pool was closed in 2016 for safety reasons and later removed.

The pool project received bids from three construction companies. Westfield Construction Co. presented the lowest bid of $2,068,321, eclipsing Buckland’s budget of $1,971,717 for the pool.

Additionally, the town needs to set aside about 10% of the bid amount for possible contingencies. That totals an additional $206,832 needed. There is also $7,500 needed for on-site geotechnical work and $21,000 for Kuth Ranieri Architects’ contract.

Totaling these figures, the town is looking to make up a $331,936 deficit. The Finance Committee concluded that the deficit needs to be taken from another account in the town budget, or the entire pool project would be lost.

Both Finance Committee and Recreation Committee members spoke about the $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant that Buckland received in September. If the town does not use the money by June 30, 2023, it will be reallocated. Assessor Pamela Guyette said she spoke with the state, and there is no flexibility to extend the deadline.

In addition to the PARC grant, Special Town Meeting voters in October approved $1,263,104 for planning, designing and constructing the new pool and poolhouse. Additional money was raised from community donations.

Funding for the salt shed, meanwhile, had been approved at Annual Town Meeting: $150,000 from free cash and $200,000 from the stabilization fund. Butler explained the bid process for the salt shed — which was supposed to be built this year — will not be ready until at least the spring. She also said the town will likely encounter the same problem of not having enough money allocated because of rising construction costs.

“The salt and sand shed, which was built in 1995, continues to function but is in poor condition,” Butler said. “It is a priority to move sand and salt storage from 50 Conway St. to the new Highway Garage facility at 2 Sears St. to improve safety and efficiency.”

If the salt shed money is reallocated to support the pool, as suggested by the Finance Committee and the Recreation Committee, members say it will take at least three years to raise the money again.

Both committees suggested taking all the money allocated for a new salt shed — except for $50,000 that would pay for new doors for the 1995 structure — and using it for the pool project. The committees also suggested taking $19,000 out of the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) fund. This would leave $1,000 in the account.

The suggestions were relayed to the Selectboard, which will decide on Friday during a 5:30 p.m. meeting whether to call a Special Town Meeting to reallocate funding in the budget.

“Wherever we land, this has been a process we will never forget,” said Recreation Committee member Carol Foote. “We are still gunning for this pool.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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