The city is looking for a new Cornelia Warren outdoor pool in three locations and the early favorite appears to be in the Westbrook Community Center.
The pool in the park at 489 Main Street was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but remains closed due to serious structural damage that makes swimming there unsafe. The repair cost for the pool and a new bathhouse was estimated at $ 1.8 million earlier this year, exceeding the expected cost by about $ 1 million.
The city came up with the idea of removing the pool and replacing it with a splash guard last year, but the outcry from local residents at public gatherings prompted the city to sponsor pool funding, which they are still working on.
The potential locations are urban land on Foster Street off Main Street near the river; next to Westbrook Community Center on Bridge Street; and the current location in the Warren outdoor recreation area, according to City Project Manager Robyn Saunders.
The current location isn’t ideal, Saunders said. The sloping bottom cracked the pool and created the unsafe conditions. It also has poor vision.
It’s too early to say how much it would cost to build a pool at each location as designs and estimates are still in progress, Saunders said. Each potential location has flat land that is suitable for the project and accessible to everyone, she said, but using the community center’s existing utilities and pool house holds the potential for greater savings.
Community center director Greg Post likes the idea of having an outdoor pool on site, as does Mayor Mike Foley. In bad weather, the swimmers could switch to the indoor pool and “don’t have to muck out,” said Foley at the meeting.
“It seems like a contradiction in having pools in the same location, but from other angles, it’s positive,” Mayor Mike Foley said at a city council meeting on July 12th.
Post said its pool staff is typically split between indoor and outdoor pools during the summer months.
Council President Gary Rairdon said of the three locations the community center was the best in terms of oversight.
“There is always someone in the indoor system. In the off-season, our (outdoor) pool is devastated where our community center is very busy, ”said Rairdon, adding that pool guests could use the Congin School car park next door as the outdoor pool would be used in summer.
“Down on Foster S.the tree, the site could withstand a pool there, but it is not ideal, ”he said.
Residents who spoke to the American Journal overall supported a possible relocation.
Gorham resident and former Warren Pool pool attendant Emily Figucia said she has often seen fights and drug deals at the current location because it is not easily seen. The outdoor pool in the community center would be easier and more resident-friendly for staff, she said.
“If it were in the community center it could be a great place for school trips, birthdays and other things, as well as the indoor pool,” said Figucia.
Westbrook’s Beth Calloway has taken her two sons to the outdoor pool in the past and would support either the Foster Street location or the Community Center, she said.
“I think Foster Street would be more pedestrianized while the community center would provide more parking, privacy and security,” she said.
Resident Heather Morris said she grew up with the pool in the Warren Recreation Area, she was all for a new location if it helps get the job done.
“I have many fond memories of the outdoor pool. My girls both learned to dive in the outdoor pool and we spent many hot afternoons there meeting with family and friends, ”said Morris. “Perhaps having the maintenance and pool staff in the same location would make managing the pool in the community center easier, which would be an advantage.”
The city is now looking for blueprints and hard numbers for the three plans to allow better comparisons.
“We’ll definitely have more information on the tough costs and locations in August,” Saunders told the American Journal.
Post said there are no plans to fix the current location while a new pool is being worked on. He estimates that Westbrook will be without an outdoor pool for almost two years.
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