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After months of discussion, town officials narrowed down a proposal for an alternative cover for the Cheshire Community Pool, and funding for the project could be placed in the hands of voters this November.
The Pool Bubble Alternative Subcommittee met for a final time on Jan. 29 to discuss a Request For Proposal (RFP) that the Town will send out to prospective bidders. However, this RFP is a little different than most of the other projects the town sends out to bid, as it is very open ended and allows for a variety of proposals to be submitted. Matt Altieri, a town councilor and subcommittee chairman, said the RFP should elicit a wide range of responses.
“I feel good about it,” Altieri said, adding that the subcommittee developed an RFP that spells out exactly what the Town is trying to accomplish.
As part of the proposal, the subcommittee requested certain goals be achieved with any new structure. First, the proposal asks potential bidders to find a way to reduce energy consumption at the facility by 40 percent, regardless of how it can be done. The idea of the RFP, explained Altieri, is not to lock any potentially bidder into a particular structure.
“We’re not putting specifics in it,” said James Sima, a town councilor and subcommittee member. “Basically, we aren’t telling them what we want. We are asking them what they think is the best option for a new structure.”
Sima said potential bidders should know that usage at the pool — both swim teams and recreational activities — is the driving force of the facility. Needs such as reducing the humidity in the locker rooms and limiting wear on electronic equipment are also included in the RFP.
“Everyone has a lot of good ideas, and we want to put them together,” Sima explained. “We don’t want to be locked into one mind set.”
Sima said it is his “personal goal” to get a proposal to referendum this fall. “We can’t put it off and have it soak up more money.” “Hopefully, it’ll come to the council soon and we’ll get it out.”
The RFP, which is currently in draft form, still needs to be reviewed by Town Manager Michael Milone and Town Attorney Dwight Johnson. After their reviews are complete, Altieri expects to present the proposal to the full Council for approval. Any proposals however, would most likely need voter approval at referendum.
Sima explained that the RFP also includes what he called “creative financing.” For instance, if a company proposes a structure that would reduce energy consumption by 40 percent, yet only cuts energy by 25 percent, that company would be penalized. Conversely, if reductions exceeded 40 percent, they would be rewarded with a bonus.
As much as the RFP is a step forward, Altieri said there is “still a lot of work ahead of us.” He explained that the public will need to be educated about the different types of proposals because, ultimately, the fate of the pool rests in their hands. Altieri said a new structure or improvement at the pool will cost money, but with the RFP, “it won’t be a patch,” but rather, it will be “a long-term solution.”
“I think we all agree that we can’t go on like this,” Altieri said. “As much as some people do not like the pool, we cannot keep spending this type of money.”