OPINION: Town Pool – Consider the Big Picture

May 12, 2022 submitted by Kelly Smallcomb

The tax increase for the $8M proposed town pool passed at the Town Meeting, but it still needs to pass by majority on the ballot on May 14th. There was a small turnout at the meeting and many citizens remain unaware of what is at stake. A yes vote goes well beyond the proposed $8M cost.  It adds considerable and wasteful costs to turn what should be a simple replacement project of our seasonal pool into a larger scale project to make the pool bubble ready for year-round swimming.

Here are five elements of the plans that are not in the best interest of the town.

1.     Making the pool bubble ready adds considerable cost to the project, and we may never put a bubble on it!  The country club has said that roughly $800k of the $8M ask is to prepare the area for a future bubble, however, the true costs are much higher.  For instance, we do not need a $3M, ~5,000 sq ft.  bathhouse with conference space and heating if we aren’t going to put a bubble on it and swim in the winter. It will go largely unused.

2. If we do put a bubble on the pool, we know that indoor aquatic facilities run at a significant deficit.  Nearby indoor pools cost at least $200-300k per year to run.  Birthday parties and swim team fees won’t cover that cost which will become a budget item that competes with other needs like teacher’s salaries, special education, safety and upkeep of town property.

3.     Bubble pools are known to have poor air quality. They require a continuous flow of air to keep the bubble inflated while exhausting very little. People will prefer to continue to swim in other fully indoor pools nearby.  The DCR Connell pool is 10 mins from SSCC, and solid structure pools have far better air quality.

4.     The demolition of the former pool is not included in the scope of this project.  The Country Club will be back in front of us at some point asking for more money and to pay to help repurpose that land.  We don’t know the full cost of the project we’re asked to vote on.

The SSCC went 34% over budget on the construction of their $3M garage for their equipment.   If they miss by that margin on the pool, it will cost $11M. We are pouring a lot of money into the Country Club. We should be discerning about what parts of the Country Club’s plans we choose to fund.

Our past seasonal pool broke even financially and did not compete with other town needs for funding.  A seasonal only pool has always provided a place for swim lessons and was a great community gathering space. I support rebuilding a seasonal pool, but I do not support this project. Join me in voting “No” and asking the SSCC to come back with a seasonal only pool plan that makes more sense for our town in the long run.

Kelly Smallcomb

Hingham Resident

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