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The future of the Cheshire Community Pool was a hot topic of discussion last week, as the Town prepares to solicit bids to rebuild the inside of the permanent building.
As soon as tomorrow, the Town plans to request bids to completely redo the inside of the permanent structure to which the collapsible bubble attaches eight months out of the year. This past winter, pool employees, including Aquatics Director Sheila Adams, reported respiratory problems after spending prolonged periods of time inside the building. Town Manager Michael Milone said that the building was inspected and found to contain massive amounts of mold.
“It was made clear to us that we had a very sick building,” Milone explained. “The building was filled with mold and mildew.”
As a result, Milone said the reconstruction work “morphed into a much larger project” and anticipates spending at least $125,000 to bring the building up to snuff. At the July 16 Pool Bubble Alternative Subcommittee meeting, Lloyd Hamilton, who the Town has hired to craft bid specifications for the repair work, told the Committee that he wants to “protect the building from growing mold” by installing thermal, air, and moisture barriers throughout the facility.
“Right now, the building might as well not be insulated with the way it’s constructed,” Hamilton said. “I am not proposing a Band Aid. This is a permanent solution.”
Hamilton stated that, “every pool has moisture problems” and believed the proper fix was to outfit the building with materials that can “withstand the moisture.” He believed a product called DensArmor would protect the building from growing mold again, but as part of the project he suggested improving the ventilation in the facility.
“I want to make this work this winter,” Hamilton said. “As it’s configured, it won’t be able to function.”
Hamilton believed that, after the work is complete, the Town could save 30 percent in energy costs. Energy Commission Chairman Rich Ogurick believed the work is “treating the symptom, not the disease.” Ogurick explained that the humidity, when the bubble is attached, is the real problem and didn’t think fixing the permanent structure would accomplish much. He said the bubble should be replaced to truly address the issues inside the permanent building that holds the offices, locker rooms, and changing areas.
“The humidity is the root of all the problems,” Ogurick said. “But (the pool enclosure) can’t be dehumidified with the way it’s constructed (with the bubble.)”
Milone hoped that the work could be completed in time for the pool’s fall scheduled opening on Sept. 15. Councilor and Subcommittee Chairman Matt Altieri said there was a “sense of urgency” with the project, but there was also “some sensibility” in Hamilton’s design proposal. Councilor Tim White said the Town’s back is against the wall and the finger could only be pointed in one direction.
“I place the blame solely on the Council, collectively,” White said.
The same evening, Operations Manager George Noewatne walked the subcommittee through six proposals the Town received for alternative covers to the pool. Of the six, five were traditional buildings, while one was a polycarbonate glass “greenhouse” style enclosure. The price tags for the different proposals range between $4 to $8 million.
“When I saw these, top to bottom, I was surprised and a little disappointed,” Altieri said. “The sticker shock was there for me.”
Each proposal had two companies performing work, with one firm handling construction while a second company would be an architect for the project. One of the proposals, from KBE Construction in Farmington and BL Companies in Meriden, included a steel and masonry building with window panels. Included in the proposal were dehumidification measures, solar panels, and a pool cover. The companies estimated a 12-month design and construction process at a cost of $4.1 million.
A second proposal, from Whiting-Turning Construction in New Haven and Moser Pilon Nelson Architects in Wethersfield, called for a pre-engineered metal building with window panels and a skylight in the roof. The proposal included a dehumidification process, solar panels, and energy efficient lighting. The companies estimated an 8-month start-to-finish project at a cost of $4.9 million. As an alternate to the proposal, a co-generation system could be added for nearly $680,000 in an effort to further reduce energy costs.Another proposal, from O,R&L Construction in Branford and S/L/AM Collaborative in Glastonbury, called for a traditional steel building with skylights at a cost of $5.3 million, while G.F. Rhode Construction and Meyers and Meyers from Boston called for an OpenAire structure that would be aluminum with removable walls and operable roof panels. The company expected a 20-month design and construction time frame and a cost of $5.6 million.
After a brief review of the six proposals, the Committee decided that the two more expensive proposals, $6.6 to $8 million respectively, did not need to be considered by the Town at this time. However, the first four proposals, ranging from $4.1 to $5.6 million will be invited back this fall to discuss their proposals.
Ogurick said he was “starting to think” that $5 million was the “right number” to cover the pool. He urged the Town not to look at the price tags as only a cost, as there would be a benefit as well.
“We could stop the $400,000 subsidy and save $200,000 in energy costs,” Ogurick said. “This is not just an expense.”
The Committee will meet with the four businesses in September.