Claremont Delays Old Pool Demolition
Claremont — Rather than vote to proceed with demolition of the 60-year-old outdoor pool, the City Council voted Wednesday night to get a second opinion on the pool’s condition and what it would cost to fix it.
The 6-1 vote to seek companies to examine the aging pool came after a lengthy discussion and comments from the public, most of which supported taking another look at the pool. Mayor James Neilsen was the sole council member in opposition.
The public pool did not open in 2012 and money was set aside for demolition in the budget review last November. A bid has been awarded for $23,000 to demolish the pool, but a contract has not been signed.
Resident Jeff Barrette, a county commissioner and local business owner, asked the council last month to hold off on demolition and give him the opportunity to pay for his own assessment of the pool.
City officials have said the 270,000-gallon pool leaked more than 5 million gallons in 2011 and would cost $600,000 to repair. Anticipated expenses for 2012 were $92,000 with just $5,000 in revenue. Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hausler presented those figures again last night.
Barrette, who handed the council a petition with 325 signatures asking the city to take a second look at the structure, doubts the accuracy of the numbers.
“The data doesn’t make sense,” Barrette said.
Based on the 10 weeks the pool was open, he said it would have leaked 3,100 gallons an hour.
“In 24 hours you would be losing two feet out of that pool,” Barette said.
He asked for the opportunity to open the pool, at his expense, and pay on his own for an assessment.
“If I’m wrong, knock it down; if I’m right. Let’s talk. I feel like there are more questions than answers.”
Others supported Barrette, including state Rep. Joe Osgood, a Republican, who compared the condition of the pool with Arrowhead Recreation Area when the city took it over and now is in good shape.
“This could be the same scenario for that pool,” Osgood said.
“Let him come back with answers. Why take it down now without giving him the option (of looking at it,)” he added.
Councilors said they fully trusted the department heads’ numbers on the pool, but were willing to look again at it given the public comments.
“I think it is an opportunity to get more answers so people have more information,” said Councilor Kyle Messier.
Councilor Chris Irish was not as enthused and took offense to criticism leveled at the council for not trying to repair the pool.
“The same people who want to lynch us for adding a penny to the tax rate, now want to spend money on a pipe dream,” said Irish.
He said there will be an expense to repairs, even if they are less than estimated, and no money set aside.
“No matter how you slice it, we are going to have to pay for it.”
Barrette had offered to hire his own expert but the council said it would seek an independent firm to avoid creating “his pool guy doing battle with our pool guy” as Irish put it.
The money will come out of the $50,000 the city budgeted for demolition. However with no electricity at the site any longer, it was suggested a pressure test would need to be done to identify the extent of the leaks.
Not everyone supported a second look. Resident Steve Raymond said the council made its decision to demolish the pool when the new community center opened.
“It was put out there that this was going to be ripped out so I am surprised to see it back,” said Raymond. “If they want to invest their own money on this, let them.”
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.