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Monday should have been its opening day, but Bucksport’s municipal pool will stay closed this summer because it is a safety hazard that leaked 600,000 gallons of water in less than a week.
Community and Economic Development Director Richard Rotella spent part of the day telling a few dozen disappointed patrons who showed up to use the 300,000-gallon Tim Emery Municipal Swimming Pool on Monday that they will have to find someplace else to swim over the next two months.
The pool normally hosts more than 200 people a day if the weather is good, but it is of 1950s vintage, a gift from St. Regis Paper Co. when it owned the now-defunct paper mill in town. Rotella is seeking an alternative pool for the summer, as repairing the town’s would likely cost at least $100,000, he said.
“It’s the absolute worst-case scenario. If we close it, there is a certain set of people that are going to be upset,” Rotella said Monday. “If we keep it open and something tragic happens, that’s not a good scenario either. Public safety always come first.”
Despite patches, the pool has been leaking slowly for the last few years. Town officials refilled it once over the course of the summer season, which typically runs from the first Monday after town schools let out to Labor Day weekend. Water loss was much faster when workers began filling it last week, Rotella said.
Besides leaks, the pool now has a crumbling deep-end wall, from which rebar is beginning to jut. The pool filtration system’s grates are starting to edge out of their holes in the pool floor, making it unsafe, Rotella said.
Located at 55 Broadway, the pool has been managed for the last two years by Down East Family YMCA under contract from the town. It is overseen by a committee of residents and YMCA and town officials. That committee voted 6-0 last week to recommend to the council that the pool be closed and alternative sites found.
The Bucksport Town Council will review proposals from several engineers who have been examining the pool. Chairman Peter Stewart said he doesn’t expect the council to take any action when it meets on Thursday. He called the pool’s closure “a summertime loss.”
“It has been definitely an asset that we have gotten a great deal out of,” he said.