Bucksport’s municipal swimming pool was shut down for the summer season back in June after it leaked 600,000 gallons of water in less than a week. At one point, police were called to look at what resembled bullet holes in the pool’s lining.
Next month on Election Day, voters will have the chance to decide whether to allocate as much as $1 million to rebuild the leaky, 1950s-vintage pool.
If voters OK the idea, the Tim Emery Municipal Swimming Pool’s old surface will be torn up, the pipes to the drainage and filtration systems beneath it replaced, and a new surface put down, said Nick Tymoczko, operations manager for the Down East Family YMCA, which manages the pool for the town.
In shutting the pool down for the summer season, town officials said that just patching the pool could be dangerous. The holes police investigated turned out to be rebar that had sunk into the pool’s increasingly weakening concrete — a troubling sign that it could collapse and become a sinkhole.
The $1 million pool rebuilding item is on the ballot for the Tuesday, Nov. 5 election because Bucksport’s town charter requires voters to approve expenditures of more than $250,000. The Town Council informally approved its being on the ballot this November and voted unanimously in June to have Town Manager Susan Lessard seek requests for proposals for its repair.
Tymoczko favors repairing or replacing the pool but readily concedes that doing so has downsides. He said the biggest is the price tag: $1 million is a lot to spend on a pool that operates only 10 weeks a year, particularly in Bucksport, a mill town still recovering from the loss of the Verso Paper mill, which closed in late 2014, idling 570 workers.
The pool’s design is also 60 years old, and some would call that antiquated. But the pool also can be an economic driver, Tymoczko said, as it draws people from neighboring towns into Bucksport and adds to the area’s quality of life.
The pool was a gift from St. Regis Paper Co. when it owned the now-defunct paper mill in town. Located at 55 Broadway, the pool normally hosts more than 200 people a day if the weather is good.
“It is a generational asset at this point. Lots of people in this town have parents and grandparents that have used the pool,” he said. “Many folks have learned how to swim there over the years.”
A second ballot question asks voters whether they support spending $3 million over the next three years to repair local roads.
Also on the ballot are six candidates running for two three-year seats and three candidates running for a single, one-year seat on the Town Council. One candidate is running for an open three-year seat on the Regional School Unit 25 school board, which serves Bucksport, Orland, Prospect and Verona Island.