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Hartford Residents Weigh In on Pool Via Surveys at Glory Days Festival

  • Brian McGregor, the passenger representative of Green Mountain Railroad, helps Nicole Piasecki, 3, of Hanover, N.H., off the train at the end of her 40 minute train ride at Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Scot Pooler, of White River Junction, and his daughter Evelyn, 2, cast their vote for the climbing wall feature of the new Sherman Manning Pools at Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Pooler voted for the climbing wall and inflatable features "cause I'm a big kid," Pooler said. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford residents Cian Fields, 3, looks around his father Nathan's shoulder as they ride a small train at Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock residents Stephanie Gile and her daughter Lucy, 1, talk to her son Theodore, 3, and husband Peter, as they prepare to ride the train towards Norwich and back at Glory Days of the Railroad in White River Junction, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, September 09, 2018

White River Junction — While the Glory Days festival on Saturday celebrated the history of the railroad industry in White River Junction, attendees had the opportunity to weigh in on the future of the Sherman Manning Pools.

Near the Railroad Row entrance to Saturday’s festivities — which also featured train rides and exhibits, lots of vendors and children’s activities — Hartford’s Pool Advisory Committee set up a visual survey asking passers by which features they’d prefer to see as part of a potential future municipal pool in town. The current facility, a large, “L” shaped pool and kiddie pool at Hartford High School, were closed indefinitely last spring because of chronic leakage issues.

At a recent Pool Advisory Committee meeting, engineering firm Weston & Sampson suggested that building an entirely new swimming area would be more cost effective than continuing to patchwork the 51-year-old facility’s extensive structural flaws.

The pools were also closed for the 2015 season for repairs.

On Saturday, survey participants were each issued a strip of five green stickers and asked to place them on placards depicting various pool characteristics such as slides and diving boards, lap lanes, large inflatable features and “zero depth entry,” a wheelchair accessible slope with gradually deepening water levels.

“It’s an opportunity to get some ideas on the board and be able to say, ‘If we are to build a new pool, these are the kinds of things that people would like to see,’ ” said Hartford parks and recreation director Scott Hausler, who has a staff support seat on the Pool Advisory Committee. “It would be a community pool, so public input is an important part of the process.”

While a new pool area could have dramatically different price points based on amenities — diving boards, for example, are much more costly to install and maintain than inflatable features — the objective Saturday simply was to gather initial public interest levels in potential pool features.

“We want to be able to brainstorm all kinds of possibilities, get them all out there and then be able to sift through them,” said Steve Legasse, a pool committee member who lives near the current pool site. Added Dave Sherman, a White River Junction resident who’s also on the committee: “Everyone wants to know how much a new pool would cost, but we have to know what people want before we put a price tag on it. Once we have an idea of the features it might include, we’ll have a better idea.”

An hour-and-a-half after opening the survey, the most popular characteristics included shade structures (45 stickers), a leisure/family pool (39), slides and a learn-to-swim/senior access pool. Friends Jean Goodwin and Louise Gagnon, residents at Quail Hollow senior living community in West Lebanon, both enjoy leisurely swimming and placed a sticker in the latter category.

“Seniors are always looking for things to do, especially if it doesn’t cost a lot,” said Goodwin. “I’ve done water aerobics classes at (Upper Valley Aquatic Center), but it would be great to have more options.”

More choices were also on the minds of Enfield residents Brian and Erin Martin, who have a 2-year-old son, Desmond and live near Mascoma Lake. “A pool with some of (these amenities) would mean a lot more stuff to do for him than just splash around in the lake,” Brian Martin said. “And it would be really nice to have shade.”

Many parents with young children placed stickers in the “zero-depth entry” and “kiddie pool with zero depth entry” categories, eager to avoid traditional pools where the shallowest section is 2-3 feet deep.

“I never thought of this until I had a child, but at regular pools, even if your kid is right next to you, it’s easy for them to fall in,” said Katie Knapp, a Wilder resident who was at Glory Days with her 1-year-old son, Colin. “That’s a big deal when you have someone (Colin’s) age, even if it’s only three feet deep. A gradual incline would be huge. It would be a lot safer.”

Twenty-somethings Robert Jones and Chris Welker, both Hanover residents who don’t have kids, said a municipal pool would be a welcome alternative to the natural swimming holes they frequent.

Welker placed a sticker in favor of lap lanes.

“If I’m just going to be jumping in, I prefer the river and a moving current,” he said. “But if you want to exercise or you’re training for something, lanes are ideal.”

There was also a placard labeled “No pool,” which included images of playgrounds. It had five stickers on it about 90 minutes after the survey opened.

“We’re in northern New England; we can only swim outside for two months of the year,” said Elizabeth Rentz, a Norwich resident who previously lived in Hartford. “Kids can play on a playground in March, but they can’t swim outside. If you want to maximize value in something outside, you should be able to use it for as many of the 12 months as possible.”

Cathy Karl, of Hanover, says municipal pools are a valuable form of low-cost recreation.

She recently had a pleasant experience at Lebanon’s public pool.

“I went there and thought I was going have to prove I was a Lebanon resident and not be allowed in, but (staff said) ‘Come right in,’ ” said Karl. “I think it cost $1. It’s important to have facilities like that that are accessible to everyone.”

The next Hartford Pool Advisory Committee meeting, open to the public and held at Town Hall, is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.