Opinion sought on pool bid vote

Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Plans to replace the Thompson Park pool appear to be dead in the water.

City Council will most likely reject the bids for the now projected $2.9 million pool project on Monday night after bids came in $300,000 over budget last week, officials said.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. said Tuesday that there isn’t enough support because it would take four votes to increase the bonding for the project to make up the $300,000 difference.

“The bids are going to be rejected,” he said, adding that “no one has the appetite to approve them.”

When they were opened last week, bids totaled about $2.9 million, about $300,000 more than had been hoped. Council members have committed to spending $2.4 million for the project, along with an additional $200,000 state grant for the work.

But Councilman Cody J. Horbacz surmised this is the city’s last chance to get a new pool built.

“If we don’t get it done, it will never get done,” he said. “You’ll never get it done, never ever get it done. It will not get done without this council.”

Yet he still hasn’t given up hope that council members will decide to reject the bids and start the bidding process once again.

City officials hope that representatives from C&S Companies, the company designing the pool and bathhouse, will attend Monday night’s council meeting to answer questions about the project.

Maybe engineers can find ways to make additional cuts to the project, Councilman Horbacz said.

He and the mayor have differing opinions why the pool should proceed and why this should be the end of the road for the project.

As he sees it, the pool is about the park’s future and turning it into a regional destination, Councilman Horbacz said. The new pool also would be “100 percent ADA compliant,” while the city’s two other outdoor pools do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Meanwhile, Mayor Butler would rather see the city explore the possibility of expanding the city’s popular splash pad and proceed with restoring the pool’s bathhouse.

The site of the old pool could be used to supplement the existing 4,000-square-foot splash pad that opened in the park last summer, he said.

But costs are the big reason not to replace the pool, he said. The city cannot afford it, there are already two other pools and it would cost about $90,000 to maintain a facility only used two months of the year, the mayor said.

Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo has consistently said she opposes bonding for the pool, while colleagues Ryan Henry Wilkinson and Lisa A. Ruggiero have supported the project.

They could not be reached for comment.

To keep costs down, the city already made several changes to the project. Any more cuts would have such an impact that it would not be worth pursuing, Mayor Butler said.

According to the opened bids, Con Tech Building Systems submitted a low bid of $2,130,631 for the general contracting work; Hyde-Stone Mechanical Contractors, Watertown, for $82,240 for the heating and ventilation job; $151,000 by Tmachanical, Glenfield; and Ridley Electric, Syracuse, had the only electrical bid at $149,800.

The new pool would replace the 94-year-old pool that closed after the 2013 season because of its deteriorating condition.

The two other outdoor pools are at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and North Elementary School.

The pool project became a campaign issue during the last two rounds of city elections.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

rdsouth

Maybe one of the other pools could be upgraded to make it ADA compliant?

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