Buckland voters unanimously add $300K toward pool project

  • Town officials, including Moderator Phoebe Walker, standing, and voters turn out for a Special Town Meeting at the Buckland Recreation Area’s pavilion on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Town officials and voters turn out for a Special Town Meeting at the Buckland Recreation Area’s pavilion on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Town officials and voters turn out for a Special Town Meeting at the Buckland Recreation Area’s pavilion on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 7/26/2022 4:12:07 PM

BUCKLAND — A unanimous vote from 148 residents endorsing $300,000 in funding for a new community swimming pool elicited cheers, wide smiles and hugs under the Buckland Recreation Area’s pavilion Monday evening.

Residents and town officials alike rejoiced after the 7 p.m. Special Town Meeting concluded in about a half an hour. The evening’s sole warrant item entailed a motion to reallocate $300,000 from the sand and salt shed replacement — which was funded at Annual Town Meeting — toward the pool project. This figure accounts for the disparity between the pool project’s higher-than-expected $2,068,321 low bid and Buckland’s budget of $1,971,717, plus a 10% contingency.

Out of the $350,000 sand and salt shed budget, the entire $150,000 free cash appropriation and $150,000 of the $200,000 Annual Town Meeting appropriation contributes to the pool project’s $300,000. A $19,000 appropriation from the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) fund was considered initially, but was not included in the final motion.

In addition to a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant, Special Town Meeting voters in October approved $1,263,104 for planning, designing and constructing the new pool and pool house.

Early into the meeting, Recreation Committee Chair Cynthia Schwartz marveled at how Buckland went from the design phase to hopeful construction within a nine-month span in spite of cost concerns and supply chain issues.

“We are so very thankful that we had a dedicated design team that was up for the challenge,” Schwartz said. “They worked very closely with us to design a project that checked the boxes of being a community pool that would serve a wide cross-section of the public with a very functional and beautiful-looking pool house, all while being as cautious as possible to choose materials that would give us the best bang for our buck.”

She continued, reflecting on how far the project has come since the former pool at the Buckland Recreation Area was closed in 2016 for safety reasons and later removed.

“There has been a tremendous amount of work that has gone into this project over the course of the last five, almost six, years,” she said. “The community has rallied together with their support and donations.”

Recreation Committee member Carol Foote subsequently celebrated this community support in a brief speech. She recognized a total of 240 donations, which amounted to $648,000, a sum Foote said was “truly amazing.” The community agreed, tailing her announcement with resonant applause.

Still, Foote said, more was needed.

“We know there is more generosity out there,” she said, referencing the public desire to approve Monday’s motion.

Once prompted by Town Moderator Phoebe Walker, a flurry of nearly 150 brightly colored cards shot skyward as residents indicated their “yes” votes.

Among this pool of voters was Polly Anderson, a Buckland resident who fondly remembers being among the first to swim in the Buckland Recreation Area’s former pool after it was installed in 1962. One of her fondest childhood memories at the pool involved a visit from Clarence Linden “Buster” Crabbe II, an Olympic gold medalist for swimming who also portrayed Tarzan in the 1933 film “King of the Jungle.” Anderson, who later became a lifeguard at the pool, said Crabbe helped teach her and her friends to swim.

“I feel really fortunate to have witnessed that … and to be here at this meeting and witness this amazing unanimous vote,” she said.

Monday’s outcome revealed that even though 50 years have elapsed since the last pool’s installation, the community has “the same goal in mind.”

“It’s also nice to see new people who are moving in and supporting it,” Anderson said.

Reach Julian Mendoza
at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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