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Claremont Delays Action on Old Pool

Claremont — It was clear from Wednesday night’s City Council discussion that no money will be spent to repair the city’s outdoor pool, but the question of whether it will be demolished remains unanswered.

After a presentation on the problems with the 63-year-old pool by Tom Scarlata of the firm Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype and a lengthy council discussion, members, in a 6-3 vote, rejected a motion by Vic Bergeron to authorize the city manager to proceed with demolition.

Instead, it said it would take up the issue in January.

Bergeron was adamant that the council intended to demolish the pool all along once Claremont’s new community center opened last March but the minutes from previous meetings did not make that intent clear. He criticized his fellow councilors for wanting to save what he termed a “piece of junk.” Councilors Kyle Messier and Roger Formidoni agreed with the motion.

But others saw no need to rush the decision, especially since demolition was not noticed on the council’s agenda.

“That is the problem I have,” said Councilor Nick Koloski, who, along with others wanted a full discussion on other options for the facility at Veteran’s Park. Koloski did not want to take down the pool, just for “another patch of grass.” Councilor Carolyn Towle urged residents to attend the January meeting to discuss the pool’s future. Estimates from Scarlata to just reopen it, with no warranty beyond a year, were close to $500,000.

“What is the rush?” asked newly-elected councilor James Reed, who joined the council two months early to fill the seat of Chris Irish. Irish recently resigned.

Resident Jeff Barrette had asked the council to look further at the condition of the pool, which closed in 2011, because he doubted the Parks and Recreation Department’s report that 5 million gallons had leaked from the gutter system over 10 weeks of that summer. Obligations to his business prevented him from being at the meeting but Koloski read a brief email Barrette sent.

“I’m disappointed in the report because it did not conclusively answer the original question of water loss,” Barrette wrote.

In other business, City Manager Guy Santagate announced the hiring of Mark Brislin of Essex Junction, Vt., as the new parks and recreation director, replacing Scott Hausler, who left in October to work with the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department.

“We are delighted to have him,” said Santagate.

Brislin will begin Dec. 30 and earn $65,000 a year. He previously has worked in recreation programs in Comstock, N.Y., and Pittsford, Vt., and was camp/program director of New England Family YMCA in Haverhill, Mass.

The city also set the special election for nine members of the newly created charter commission to coincide with the special election to replace Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died on Tuesday.

City Solicitor Jane Taylor said she will know by Friday when the state will set the election, possibly Jan. 21, for the Executive Council seat. If there is a primary that day, the general election would be held on Town Meeting Day March 11.

If there is no primary, the election would be in January.

The commission’s work could possibly be presented to voters in November.

The council also authorized the city to enter into a new four-year lease with the state for the district court beginning Jan.1.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.