Jun. 23—VERNON — Town officials are considering replacing the aging Horowitz Pool in Henry Park with a splash pad in order to save on costs.
Proposed splash pad
WHAT: Instead of replacing the aging Horowitz Pool in Henry Park with a new pool facility, the town is considering building a splash pad at the location to save costs.
WHY: The pool, built in 1952, has reached the end of its useful life and has a crumbling concrete wall.
The pool, which will be closed this season, was built in 1952 and is at the end of its useful life, Parks and Recreation Director Marty Sitler said during Tuesday's Town Council meeting. He added that an engineering firm hired by the Town Council in 2019 found that the many components of the pool had failed, including the water heater and sanitary sewer line.
Sitler also said Tuesday that the concrete walls of the pool have been deteriorating for years.
"Chunks of the concrete would fall out of the wall every year," Sitler said, adding, "If I took a hammer and tapped it, like I should be able to, bigger chunks would fall."
He explained that groundwater flowing down from the hill where the Fox Hill Tower stands has put pressure on the walls for years.
The water in the pool prevents the walls from crumbling further by putting pressure on the walls from the other side, he said.
After the town learned that the pool was failing in 2019, officials considered replacing it with a new pool facility. However, the cost of a new outdoor, inground pool facility would be approximately $9 to $12 million, Sitler said. Anything less would result in the new facility having fewer amenities than the current pool.
"That won't meet the needs of the community, in my opinion," Sitler said.
Because of this, town officials began considering a splash pad facility with various sprinkler devices as an alternative for local children and families to cool off in the summer.
"If you look at the splash pads that are out there, they're huge," said Mayor Dan Champagne on Tuesday.
The approximate cost of a 6,000-square-foot unit would be just over $700,000 — much less than a new pool, he said.
Sitler said the added benefits to a splash pad would include reduced operating costs for electricity, water and chemicals, in addition to lifeguards not being needed, as well.
Champagne noted that a splash pad season could run longer than a pool, from May to September.
"I think it'll be a premiere attraction, much as Horowitz Pool was in its heyday," Sitler said.
However, Town Council member Ariana Nieves-Matias brought up concerns about no longer having a swimming pool at Henry Park.
"I feel like the history of having a town pool is pretty deep in our community ... I'm just concerned that some folks may feel like they're losing instead of gaining," Nieves-Matias said.
She also added that a splash pad might not fit older children as well as a swimming pool would.
Champagne said the town would still have the community pool at Center 375, in addition to lake swimming at Valley Falls Park and Bolton Lake.
He also added that he has seen splash pads in other towns be used by a wide age range.
"Trust me, I grew up in that pool, and I know I would've went to a splash pad and enjoyed that too," Champagne said, adding that the savings of building a splash pad would be important to consider.
"At this point, one of the things we do have to keep in mind is the pure expense ... we have to be mindful going into a recession because everybody's hurting right now, and to go out and try to bond $10 to $20 million is going to hurt every taxpayer in this town," Champagne said.
He added that the Town Council would likely have further discussions on the proposed splash pad in July and August.
Ben covers Vernon and Stafford for the Journal Inquirer.