PITTSFIELD — Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm — the perfect weather to open the town’s new swimming pool. Even though the water was only 65 degrees, dozens of children took advantage of the occasion to jump in and splash around.
Leading the charge were several of Paul E. Bertrand’s grandchildren. The pool is named for Bertrand, a tireless community volunteer.
“This was quite a project,” Bertrand admitted. More than $475,000 was raised through penny drives, spaghetti suppers, donation jars, memorial contributions and in-kind services.
The new pool — complete with water jets in a special children’s section, and a bathhouse — replaced one constructed in the 1950s but which leaked and was a maintenance nightmare.
“The only thing left from the original building is a Mickey Mouse clock,” Bertrand said.
Mayor Tim Nichols said he never doubted that the half-million-dollar project would be completed because it was so important to the people of Pittsfield.
“If you grew up here, the [original] pool is as much a part of your growing-up years as anything else in this town,” Nichols said. “This is not just a pool, it is a place to learn life lessons, a place for new people in town to come, young mothers to gather and a place where lifelong friendships can be formed.”
He said the pool was aptly named for Bertrand.
“When it comes to area sports, to time given to the community, to the Little League, to this pool, to basketball, Bertrand is the first name that comes to mind,” Nichols said.
“I think this is the greatest pool in the state of Maine,” Chris Knight, project manager for Custom Pools of New Hampshire, told more than 100 people on hand for the grand opening. He presented Town Manager Kathryn Ruth with a $500 gift certificate for pool supplies.
Bertrand said some finishing touches must still be made to the bathhouse but the pool is ready to go. The pool will open to the public Monday, June 22.
Adult early bird swim will be held 8-9 a.m. Monday through Friday. Public swim will be 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays. Mornings are reserved for swimming lessons. The pool also may be rented for parties.
Use of the pool is free for Pittsfield residents. Nonresident adults’ fee is $2, and children’s fee is $1.