By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger
RUTLAND — Plans for a new city pool have cleared a big financial hurdle, with bids coming in at prices that will allow the more than $2 million project to get done.
“It was a challenging process,” Rutland Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight said Tuesday, May 2. “We’re really excited to get this pool project moving forward.”
Sharon Davis, president of the Board of Aldermen, gave fellow board members the news at their meeting Monday night. “The bids came under the bond amount, so we should be able to build a pool,” Davis said.
Mayor David Allaire, speaking later in the meeting, also addressed the pool bids.
“The board president stole my thunder on the pool,” the mayor said, adding that he was happy to see the long-awaited project advancing.
The city has been without an outdoor pool at White’s Park since 2014, when the previous pool, built around 1970, had deteriorated to a point it had to be closed. The new pool is expected to open at the park in the summer of 2018.
Voters in March 2016 approved a $2.5 million bond for the new pool. Some of that money has gone to engineering and design work, leaving about $2.3 million to fund construction and provide a contingency account.
The first time the city put the pool project out to bid, responses were $1 million over the proposed budget, prompting changes to the plans. In addition to some design alterations, including a smaller slide, officials have scrapped plans for work on improving or replacing the existing bath house, at least for now, saving about $500,000.
Four bids for the project were opened by the city Board of Finance last week, with Russell Construction of Rutland submitting the lowest bid at slightly under $2.07 million. The next lowest bid was submitted by Belden Construction of Rutland at just over $2.23 million.
The Board of Finance referred the bids to Wight for review. A vote on awarding the bid for the project is expected at the Board of Finance’s next meeting, set for May 10.
“Three of the four bids would have been really tight,” Wight said Tuesday. “The one that’s the low bid gives us plenty of breathing room and allows us to put a contingency in there.”
The contract will give the chosen company 365 days to complete the project, with a groundbreaking expected once work is ready to begin. That could come as soon as later this month, Wight said.
The project actually involves two pools next to each other. One will be a family pool, while the second will be a “competition pool” with marked lanes. The competition pool is 2,978 square feet, and the family pool is 2,950 square feet.
Wight said the existing bath house will be looked at to determine if repairs can be made to bring it up to standards, including improvements that would be needed to make it fully accessible.
The review will determine whether it is cheaper to fix the structure or knock it down and build new, she said. Also, the recreation superintendent said, the city will explore whether smaller renovations can be made that may allow the building to be used, at least temporarily.
If needed, Wight said, the city could put in outdoor showers at the pool and lease portable toilets while funding options are explored to refurbish or construct a new bath house.
“None of those are ideal,” she said.
Alderman Tom Depoy, chairman of the Board of Aldermen’s Recreation Committee, said Tuesday the goal of reworking the plans was to maximize resources going into the pool.
“We wanted to minimize all the ancillary cost with the building,” he said. “You can always build a building later, but once you build a pool, that’s what you got. You can’t add on to a pool.”
Depoy also talked about possibly renting trailers for the roughly 2½ months the pool is open to provide space for people to change.
The park, which includes basketball and tennis courts, will have to close, at least for some time, while work on the pool project takes place, Wight said.
Nearby communities have provided pool use for city residents while work has been underway to design and build a new one.
“Rutland Town has been great,” Wight said. “We have a swim team and they needed a home, so Rutland Town really bent over backwards to accommodate the swim team at their site.”
Photo courtesy of city of Rutland
Shown is a rendering of the new municipal swimming pools planned in Rutland.