By Stephen Seitz
RUTLAND — Whither White’s Pool?
That is the question facing voters in March. If approved, a new pool would cost approximately $2 million, according to estimates.
“The city has had a pool since 1929,” said Cindi Wight, superintendent at Rutland Recreation & Parks Department. “Everyone from seniors to children can remember using that pool. Hopefully, the community will still see this as a community priority.”
The current pool, which was closed last year, opened in 1970. Wight said it had aged beyond its usefulness and needed to close.
“It was leaking like a sieve, and it was threatening the sidewalk,” she said. “Today, we can build pools that can last 50 years.”
The pool’s director noticed a number of problems mounting up. In 2013, Wight asked for a professional engineering assessment to determine whether to replace the pool, or whether extensive repairs could keep it operating.
Among the problems the assessment found were dilapidated gutters, leaking pipes, and cracks in the pool itself. Water had to be running 24 hours a day to keep the pool full. Besides that, the electrical system didn’t meet current codes, and there were tripping hazards on the concrete deck.
“The results of the assessment state that White’s Pool cannot re-open as it currently exists,” according to the rec department’s website. “The decision must be made to either incur extensive repairs and/or replace and revamp the existing infrastructure. Early community feedback places the Rutland City pool at the current location of White’s Park.”
At present, the new pool is in the preliminary design stage. Besides the pool, the bath house and pump house would also need to be updated, and drainage would need to be worked out. Wight said the pool could re-open in 2017, pending design work, budgeting and, of course, the vote.
“One thing we don’t want to do is cut corners,” she said, adding that doing the wrong thing to save some money in the short run might lead to larger problems down the road.
“We don’t want to be too cheap, but we don’t want to be too high end, either,” she said.
Wight said some people back the idea of having an indoor pool.
“There was strong support for an indoor pool,” she said. “If we did that, we’d have to work on affordability. The problem would be more the operating cost and the actual building costs, and where it would be located — another town or the YMCA. Right now, that’s on a separate track. The city continues to prefer an outdoor pool.”
According to the department, if the bond vote passes, an owner of a $150,000 home would pay $10.23 for every million dollars bonded, with subsidized pool operations amounting to $15 per every $100,000.
“Someone asked me if the pool would make money,” Wight said, explaining that it was and will be a town amenity, similar to other recreation offerings. “It’s not supposed to make a profit.”
More information can be found at the department’s website, rutlandrec.com.