HARTLAND, Maine — A swimming pool project more than two years in the making has made its debut, with dozens of children already enjoying the facility’s crystal-clear water during its first week of operation.
The Hartland swimming pool facility, which includes two in-ground pools, was envisioned by local volunteers as long as five years ago, and in 2008 voters appropriated $53,000 to begin construction. The project stalled when the town hit tough financial times, and until a few weeks ago its future was uncertain.
A renewed effort this summer by a fundraising committee finally put kids in the water last Friday.
“I’ve been in it, too,” said Lisa Cray of Hartland, who was at the pool Thursday with her daughter and stepson. “I’m happy it’s finally open.”
Anyone from Hartland, St. Albans or Palmyra is welcome to use the pool, according to Russell “Rusty” Dickey, a part-time town employee who oversees the pool’s operations. For now, the pool is open from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays, though Dickey said he might try a few evening shifts between now and Aug. 30, when the facility will likely close for the season. Hundreds of children have already filled out the forms necessary to use the pool — including a liability release because there are no lifeguards — and as many as 35 have shown up on any given day.
“We’ve had a very good turnout, but I still wish the word could get out a little more,” said Dickey. “There’s been a very positive response.”
Hartland has been without a public swimming area since its former municipal swimming pool on Pleasant Street was closed several years ago. Dickey said the hours of operation and the availability of a lifeguard and swimming lessons might increase next summer, but the focus this year was simply to ensure the facility was enjoyed during warm weather.
“As long as the kids are having a good time, that’s all that matters,” said Dickey.
Barbara Day, a member of the fundraising committee, said Thursday she was pleased that the project has finally come to fruition. Day and several other volunteers have held several fundraisers to supplement the taxpayer dollars that paid for the project. Local businesses also have chipped in time and services to make the project possible.
The facility is located next to the Hartland Community Center, which is attached to Hartland Elementary School. A dry-erase board lists hours, though Dickey said he expects the pools to be open from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays.