- FUN FEATURES
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The Cheshire Community Pool reopened this week for the first time in nearly four months and officials said the turnout has been great.
At 6 a.m. Monday, the pool was officially opened for business. The last time the pool was open to the public was January 12. Aquatics Director Sheila Adams explained that it was a perfect week to open, as the temperature rose into the low 70s with few clouds. Little by little, patrons returned to the pool and word spread that the facility was open again for the summer.
"People are so excited," Adams said. "Word has gotten out. Our phone has been ringing off the hook."
The pool was closed for approximately four months following a debilitating winter storm that destroyed the bubble. The weight of snow and ice that fell on the area January 12 collapsed the bubble which was then pierced by metal poles used by the swim teams. When the snow slid off the side of the downed bubble, it was re-inflated and the puncture marks tore open large rips. The bubble was then deflated for good.
The Town has been negotiating with its insurance carrier since then in an effort to get money for a new covering yet additional money had to be spent before the pool could reopen earlier this week.
When the bubble collapsed, it ruined pool ladders, the handicap lift, and caused other damage. The lights dangling from the bubble broke and spread glass throughout the area. The broken glass also tore a hole in the pool liner, which has since been repaired. The pool was drained, power washed, and refilled before opening on Monday morning, Adams explained. The costs of getting the pool up and running for summer were approved by the insurance company, Town Manager Michael Milone said.
"At this point, we've been able to order and replace what we needed. Most everything we've had to address, they've allowed us to go ahead and purchase," Milone stated. "The big remaining issue is the fabric, the bubble itself. The numbers are a lot closer now than four weeks ago."
Besides the value of the bubble, Milone said the Town submitted a claim for roughly $146,000, which represents the loss of revenue and additionally incurred expenses as a result of the facility being closed. Also, the Town has filed an active claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
All of the staff, except Adams and a clerk, were furloughed until the pool was reopened for the summer season. She said all of the full-time staff returned and a majority of the part time lifeguards also came back. Some of the college students who graduate this month are not returning, but all of the high school students are back.
"It's been a lonely three and a half months here," Adams joked. "It's good to be open again."
It wasn't a matter of if, but rather when, the pool would open for the summer. Adams acknowledged that all the clubs and teams knew the pool would be open again this month for the summer season, and rentals are already starting to trickle in. The swim team practiced at the facility for the first time this year on Monday night and swim lessons are being prepared for the end of June.
According to Adams, there has already been an aerobics class at the pool, lap swims, and scuba diver training is returning as well. A couple of birthday parties were also booked for the summer. Adams stated that this early reaction was expected, but what happens later on in the year remains a mystery.
"I didn't think anyone would book anyplace else this summer," Adams stated. "Now we'll have to wait and see what happens with everything else."
While the pool will remain open for the warm weather months, no one knows what will happen when the temperatures turn cold once again. The bubble typically gets put back on the facility in September around Labor Day. The pool has remained open and uncovered into October before, so that could be a possibility this year. The Town hopes the insurance company will provide adequate replacement costs for the ruined bubble so a new covering can be purchased and installed later this year.
Milone explained that staff has advised renters that the facility might not be ready to go this fall. At the Cheshire Town Council meeting earlier this week, a motion was approved to have the Public Building Commission investigate different bubbles. Milone said there wasn't a deadline attached to the motion because he wanted the PBC to be able to take as much time as needed to do the job right. He said the PBC's goal will be to find a bubble that works effectively and efficiently with the facility.
"It's not fair to give this to the PBC and put a gun to their head to meet a deadline. They need to take as much time as they need," Milone said. "They need to be as deliberate as possible and a deadline makes that counter productive."
If the process takes too much time, however, another discussion will have to take place as to how to protect the pool from the winter elements. Earlier this year, the collapsed bubble served as a blanket over the pool and decking, but Milone said they would have a new plan in place should the need arise.
The Cheshire Community Pool is now open for the summer season. Hours are Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The pool will remain open for two additional hours on weekend evenings starting June 25.
For more information, contact (203) 271-3208 or visit the Web, www.cheshirect.org/pool.