Hartford in Search Of Pool Alternatives

  • Marie Pillsbury, 13, of Hanover, N.H., tries out the water at Storrs Pond in Hanover on May 11, 2012, while on a break from tennis lessons at the recreation area yesterday. “It’s so cold,” she said. “But it’s fun.” (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hartford — Town officials are planning for the summer by coming up with alternatives to the Sherman Manning Pools, which will be closed for at least the summer and perhaps permanently.

“It’s not all about jumping up and down in a pool,” said Scott Hausler, Hartford’s director of Parks and Recreation.

Rather, Hausler said, the goal is to ensure that Hartford residents — and in particular the 80 young children enrolled in the town-sponsored eight-week Camp Ventures program — have access to a quality aquatic experience.

Hausler and his staff are in the process of putting together a brochure that will tout a deal the department is hammering out with the Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, which is owned and operated by the Hanover Improvement Society.

“Our summer camp will be going over to Storrs Pond this summer a few days per week,” Hausler said on Friday. “We haven’t finalized the details with them yet but we are close.”

Storrs Pond, which features amenities including the pond, a pool, a splash pad, tennis and disc golf, typically charges $10 a day for adults and $5 a day for children for full access.

Hausler said each of two age groups of the Camp Ventures children likely will be taken to Storrs Pond for two of the five days the program is in operation each week, and that the visits will not add to Camp Ventures’ current $135 weekly price tag.

Camp Ventures used to go to the Sherman Manning Pools, which is located on the Hartford High School campus, four days a week. The Storrs Pond offerings will be supplemented by visits to state beaches, area lakes, the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, and water-based activities at town amenities, such as a slip-and-slide experience at Maxfield Sports Complex.

The Hartford Selectboard made the decision to close the Sherman Manning Pools for the summer after learning that it would cost $320,000 in repairs to keep open.

Later this month, the Selectboard is scheduled to consider a measure being drafted by Town Manager Leo Pullar that would form a committee to explore the pool’s long-term prospects.

Pullar said on Friday that the discussion tentatively is scheduled for Feb. 28, after which he expects committee membership and a timeline will begin to come into focus.

This is the second time in recent years that the Sherman Manning Pools have been closed for the summer. The first time was in 2015 to accommodate a construction project, Hausler set up an “AquaShuttle” that bused kids on a daily basis to the Veterans Memorial Pool in Lebanon, which charges $4 for a day pass.

The shuttle was not a success, Hausler said.

“It didn’t work,” he said. “There were times there might have been a few kids, and most of the time there was nobody.”

He said he would entertain the idea of a similar program this summer, if the community demonstrated an interest in the service.

For Hartford residents who are not part of Camp Ventures — which is capped at 80 enrollees because of staffing capacity — Storrs Pond, the Veterans Memorial Pool, and the Upper Valley Aquatic Center remain options, though there is no program in place specifically to address the anticipated increase in need.

The Upper Valley Aquatic Center continues to offer modest discounts of between 5 and 8 percent to Hartford residents, said Rich Synnott, executive director. He said the organization also provides low-cost or no-cost programs to the community in a variety of ways that last year resulted in 155 family memberships, 80 individual memberships, and 47 free weeks of splash camp, among other benefits. UVAC day passes cost $15 for adults, and $7 for children, according to its website.

Dick Dodds, who has been managing the Storrs Pond pool since 1995, said he didn’t notice a big increase in business during the 2015 closure, and that the facility has plenty of capacity.

“It’s a huge area,” he said. “We’ve got lots of room and a couple of beaches on our pond. There’s just a ton more to do than just swim.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.