People swim to beat the heat at the Watertown Municipal Arena pool in July 2018. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Opposition is already mounting against the prospect of closing one of the city’s pools.

Debbie Dermady, a vocal supporter of the Thompson Park pool and bathhouse project, has formed a Facebook page in support of keeping three pools open during the city’s Parks and Recreation Program.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and Councilman Jesse C.P. Roshia, who both took office on Jan. 1, have proposed a study to examine the need for three pools after the Thompson Park project opens next summer.

Mrs. Dermady began the group, called Make a Splash- Keep three pools in Watertown, last week, and nearly 300 people have already become members.

“We’ve had three pools,” she said. “No reason we can’t.”

Mayor Smith said the study would determine whether the city should close either the pool at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds or the one at the North Elementary School. A splash pad, like the one at Thompson Park, would replace the closed pool.

The City Council would discuss the issue during budget deliberations this spring. Mayor Smith has said it costs about $80,000 to open each of the pools. It’s also been difficult to attract enough lifeguards.

Keeping them open would depend on the city’s ability to financially sustain all three pools, Mayor Smith said. He stressed all three pools will remain open next summer.

He didn’t know about the Facebook group devoted to the city’s pools.

Councilman Ryan Henry-Wilkinson joined the Facebook group because he hopes that no pools are shuttered.

“I want to keep the third pool open for as long as we can,” he said.

Mrs. Dermady said she’s been vocal about supporting the pools for families and children, especially low-income residents. Swimming is also a health benefit, she said.

Mrs. Dermady, a retired Thousands Islands teacher, and her husband, Bill, moved back to Watertown two years ago.

They supported former City Councilman Cody J. Horbacz’s bid for mayor this fall. He campaigned for the Thompson Park pool project.

Before winter weather set in, workers completed a brunt of the pool project. The new pool should be ready to open in July.

This fall, the pool became a major campaign issue with Mayor Smith and Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo and candidate Roshia running on a team opposing the new pool and bathhouse because of its increasing cost. Councilwoman Ruggiero, Councilman Ryan Henry-Wilkinson and Mr. Horbacz supported the project.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment


What does this group have planned for the youth of watertown for the other 46 weeks when the pools are closed.

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