Town: User fees will defray costs of running new pool
Voters OK’d $1.2 million bond in 2011; opening is June 14
An artist's rendering shows what Adams Pool is expected to look like once renovation work is complete. According to Recreation Director Jeff King, the pool should be ready to open as soon as school lets out next spring. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
PETERBOROUGH — Adams Pool is scheduled to open on time and on budget on June 14, the last day of school. Featuring a rebuilt pool deck, a slide and splash pad, new steps into the shallow end and an expanded fence that encloses a wider area around the pool, the pool came in at a final cost of $1,048,879, Recreation Director Jeff King told the Select Board on Tuesday. That amount is 12.6 percent less than the $1.2 million maximum cost that voters had approved at Town Meeting in May 2011.
But the additional features also mean the pool will cost more to run, and the town officials voted during the process of preparing the 2014 fiscal year budget to charge pool admission fees to Peterborough residents for the first time.
The fees for residents will be $1 for a single-day pass, $10 for a season pass, or $40 for a family season pass. Fees for nonresidents will be $5 for a day pass or $150 for a family season pass.
King told the Select Board that he had only received one complaint from a resident so far about the new fees, which were announced in the Recreation Department’s recently published Peterborough Press newsletter.
“The pool will have increased operating costs,” King said after the meeting. “The splash pad will require extra water and additional staff to monitor it. The slide will mean we need an extra lifeguard. The fees are intended to help offset those additional costs.”
The fees were approved, by a narrow margin, at a joint meeting of the Select Board and the Budget Committee on Feb. 5. At that meeting, which was part of the budget preparation process, Town Administrator Pam Brenner recommended the fees as a way to help offset the ongoing costs of the new pool.
“When the bond for the pool passed, the plan included a slide and a splash pad,” Brenner said on Wednesday. “There were now additional operating costs, mainly for staffing. When I sat down with the Recreation Department, we were under a dictate from the Select Board not to go up more than three percent. I recommended a minimal user fee to offset costs.”
The motion to add the fees passed by a 5-4 vote. Select Board members Liz Thomas and Joe Byk and Budget Committee members Gordon Kemp, Leslie Lewis and Steve Jones were in favor. Select Board Chair Barbara Miller and Budget Committee members Paul Sullivan, Susy Mansfield and Bob Lambert were opposed.
Thomas reiterated her support for the fees on Wednesday.
“It’s a pretty small fee for a resident,” she said. “It seemed like the sensible thing to do. I hope it seems that way to the public.”
Paula Stewart, chair of the Recreation Committee, said Wednesday that committee members had been unanimously opposed to the fees.
“We felt there were still a lot of unknowns in pool costs,” Stewart said. “We think we should be able to make more money through non-resident fees. If we can do that, we might be able to discontinue the resident fees in the future.”
Brenner said the Recreation Department will have discretion to waive fees for families who demonstrate that they can’t afford them.
“I haven’t heard any feedback on the fees,” she said. “I hope they don’t distract from the excitement of opening the pool. It’s going to be a wonderful asset, with features it never had. When you look at the cost of going to a water park, this is a bargain by far. We’re hoping our residents will see it that way.”
Stewart, who works as a guidance counselor at Peterborough Elementary School, said students at the school are looking forward to using the new pool.
“I get to hear the kids talk about it constantly,” she said. “They’re really excited about it.”
King told the Select Board that he’s taken pictures of youngsters lined up outside the chain link fence around the construction site to watch the work in progress, although most of the work has been going on underground so far.
King said the $1,048,879 was based on a contract signed with Torphey Construction of Peterborough after the project went out to bid. Torphey’s initial bid was $787,900, which gave the Recreation Department leeway, King said, to make some change orders during construction. The largest of those, he said, was for about $129,000 for renovations to the bathhouse at the pool.
“We hadn’t included that in the original bid, because we wanted to make sure we had enough money to get the pool done. That was our main priority,” King said on Wednesday. “We were able to add in those renovations in order to meet code requirements. You have to have a certain number of toilets and showers. We’re not doing anything fancy there.”
King said construction workers started demolition work on the current bathhouse on Wednesday. The pool itself is scheduled for completion on June 1 and King expects it to be ready for swimming the following week. A grand opening celebration is planned for June 14.