HARTLAND, Maine— If ever there was a sight for sorry eyes, it’s a crystal-clear swimming pool sitting unused on a hot day. In Hartland, much to the chagrin of a group of volunteers, there are two of them.
In fact, neither of two new pools owned by the town has ever been used. With summer in full swing, a committee of volunteers is working to make sure the pools, located next to the Hartland Community Center and elementary school, will be used when they’re needed most: as soon as possible.
“We’re so close,” said Shirley Humphrey, who chairs the town’s pool committee. “All we need is a little more money.”
Planning for the public pool project began at least five years ago, and in 2008 voters approved spending $53,000 to begin construction. When the town hit dire financial times later that year, the project was put on hold and for two years sat unfinished. But the pool committee has resumed its efforts in earnest and with the help of some grants and donations from some 75 people, the project is on the cusp of completion.
Voters at last month’s town meeting appropriated $7,500 to hire a lifeguard and pay for the pools’ operating costs, but another cash infusion is needed to complete on-site bathrooms, landscaping and other tasks.
“Ten thousand dollars would complete everything,” said pool committee member Barbara Day, though she and Humphrey said a smaller sum — maybe just a couple thousand dollars — is all that’s needed to make the pools safe and ready for public use.
Great strides were made recently when local contractor E.W. Littlefield stepped in to pour cement around the pools, and Steven Philbrick of Detroit lent his expertise to the pump and filter system.
Day and Humphrey said they are soliciting local businesses to contribute to the project, perhaps by purchasing sponsorship advertisements on an adjacent fence. They are also running a cash raffle that will pay prizes of $250, $125 and $50 to three winners on Sept. 1.
The town is seeking applications for a lifeguard, preferably someone who can also keep the pools clean and administer chemicals to the water.
There are two pools on the site, including a smaller, shallower one for small children and people seeking a place for water therapy. Hartland has been without a pool for several years since a facility formerly on Pleasant Street was closed.
“This project has been like a 1,000-piece puzzle and you don’t have the picture on the box to guide you,” said Day. “But all the volunteers know it’s a worthwhile cause, so they’re keeping it going.”
Anyone interested in helping finance the rest of the pool project — including by purchasing raffle tickets — can contact Day at 938-3265 or Humphrey at 938-2159. Anyone interested in applying for the lifeguard position can call the Hartland Town Office at 938-4401.