Pool Readiness Uncertain for Fall Season

With an unknown timeline for replacing the all-weather bubble over the Cheshire Community Pool, swim teams were told to look elsewhere this fall for their meets.

Swim teams have held meets at the until mid-October without the all-weather bubble in place. But the conditions were barely adequate.

"It was freezing. That's pushing it," said Aquatics Director Sheila Adams. "We'll stay outside as long as possible," she said.

Both Cheshire High School's girls swim team and the team have been told to find other pools for their meets and practices in case the bubble isn't replaced before it gets too cold to swim outside.

"We feel it would be unrealistic to have the bubble in place in late September," Town Manager Michael Milone said Tuesday. "We asked everyone involved to make other plans," he said. 

The update on the pool bubble was presented at Tuesday's Town Council meeting where a handful of swim parents and children were in the audience.

One member of the Sea Dog team, 11-year-old Benjamin Brewer, asked the council to fix the bubble as soon as possible." On behalf of the entire Swim Dog team, we all really want the bubble to be fixed," he said.

Town Councilor James Sima said the town's Public Building Commission will oversee the plans for replacing the bubble. That will include, Sima said, having a fixed cost on the damage to the pool itself and the bubble after it collapsed in January during a heavy snow storm.

"We don't want subcontractors coming in and not knitting together," Sima said. 

The pool opened for the summer season on Monday, but repairs still need to be made, Milone said. He listed railings, ladders, fencing, the bulkhead, lane lines, stanchions and diving boards as still needing installation. He emphasized, however, that the pool is safe to operate for now, without those items.

Most of the repairs will be finished soon, Milone said, but the diving boards will take about eight weeks to be replaced.

The pool contractor and the town's insurance company, Great American Insurance Group Inc. of Cincinnatti are about $35,000 apart in their estimation of the cost to replace the bubble, Milone said. The contractor is  Mike Roach, owner of Hemisphere Structures of Chestnut Ridge, New York.

There is also a reimbursement request of nearly $150,000 in lost revenue and additional expenses that Milone said won't be resolved with the insurance company for quite some time."It is still some months away that the bubble could be installed. The contractor said it's okay to install in later in the year," he added.

The bubble is normally installed in mid-September following the Cheshire Fall Festival & Marketplace.

Building commission Chairman John Purtill said it's not realistic to set a deadline on when the fabric bubble could be ready for installation. "It's more than cutting and stitching. It's an unusual design and it has a restraining system so it won't puff up," he said.

Purtill assured the swim parents that the commission would move the bubble project along as quickly as possible. "It will be assigned to a subcommittee and it will be their only priority. It won't be behind the turf (field at the high school) or roofs," he said.

The council and the building commission will hold a joint meeting on May 17 to discuss the insurance settlement, the cost of repairs and the bubble replacement project as a whole.

Meanwhile, Adams said residents are happy to be using the pool again. "We had 20 ladies doing aerobics on Tuesday and lap swimmers," she said. 

The pool is heated to 84 degrees, and while it's a bit cold when swimmers get out of the water, Adams said the warm locker rooms aren't far away. With the pool's reopening, all of the full-time employees have been rehired, she said, and 90 percent of the lifeguards have returned after their jobs temporarily ended in January.



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