BUCKSPORT, Maine — Town councilors want to see what it will cost to repair a town pool so leaky that police investigated what looked like bullet holes in its lining.
The 1950s-vintage Tim Emery Municipal Swimming Pool was shut down for the summer because it leaked about 600,000 gallons of water when town workers earlier this month began preparing it for what was supposed to be its opening day, on Monday, June 24.
YMCA Operations Director Nick Tymoczko, whose organization manages the 300,000-gallon pool for the town, said that police were called in last week to look into what appeared to be bullet holes in the pool’s lining. They soon determined that the holes were actually rebar that had sunk into the pool’s increasingly weakening concrete – a troubling sign that it could collapse and become a sinkhole.
“We could lose kids in that situation. There would be a potential of [swimmers] being stuck,” Tymoczko said, calling the possibility “terrifying.”
A gift from St. Regis Paper Co. when it owned the now-defunct paper mill in town, the pool at 55 Broadway normally hosts more than 200 people a day if the weather is good, making its loss a blow to area families.
Councilors seemed to agree that the town needs a pool. They voted 7-0 on Thursday night to have Town Manager Susan Lessard seek requests for proposals for its repair.
Councilors batted around the idea of building an indoor pool, but seemed to reject it as cost-prohibitive and redundant, with indoor YMCA pools already in Bangor, Belfast and under construction in Blue Hill.
An indoor pool would likely cost about $400,000 a year to run, Lessard said, citing her experience in another town in the 1990s.
“I would vote today to spend $200,000 of the rainy day fund to start construction now on rebuilding that pool at the same size or slightly bigger,” Councilor Paul Gauvin said. “I am in favor of rebuilding it where it sits because where it sits is vital.”
The pool is in a residential neighborhood between G.H. Jewett Elementary and Bucksport High schools near the center of town.
“I am totally in favor of doing something,” Councilor Robert Carmichael Jr. said, “but we need some form of estimate for replacing it as is and some numbers on an indoor pool – what it would cost to run it, or build it.”
It was clear that the pool’s repair would cost at least $100,000.
Lessard said she expects to have proposals from contractors at the council’s July 25 meeting.
In the meantime, workers at the Bucksport YMCA will welcome swimmers and offer swimming lessons at Craig Pond in Orland starting July 1, Tymoczko said.
Lifeguards will be on duty for their usual hours. Those who do not wish to take lessons at Craig Pond can go to Down East YMCA in Ellsworth, the Bucksport YMCA’s parent organization, he said.