WATERTOWN — The Friends of Thompson Park are thinking about what happens if the park pool project isn’t built.

Kenneth A. Mix, chairman of the Friends of Thompson Park, said the group would be willing to organize efforts to raise money to expand the Thompson Park splash pad.

“We think it’s a viable project if the pool isn’t done,” he said.

The Friends did the same thing to raise money for the popular $385,000 splash pad. Attendance at the spray ground has more than met expectations since it opened last summer.

On Monday night, city lawmakers were unable to resolve a standoff over financial issues with the $3.1 million pool project. They are expected to discuss the pool project once again at this Monday’s meeting.

Mr. Mix doesn’t know what will happen with the pool project but would like city officials to know that the Friends have expressed interest in starting a fundraising campaign for a splash pad expansion.

City Manager Rick Finn brought up the group’s interest during this past Monday night’s heated debate over the pool.

That night, Councilman Cody J. Horbacz, who campaigned on completing the pool project, said he didn’t understand why the Friends would not be behind the pool and not want to raise money for it.

Mr. Finn, however, said the group is made up of volunteers interested in advocating for Thompson Park. They’re just not interested in the pool, Mr. Finn explained.

Nonetheless, Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero said Wednesday she is focused on figuring out the financing for the pool and bathhouse project and not the splash pad.

“That’s probably a discussion for a different day,” she said.

But the need for more restrooms at the park and some kind of changing area for the splash pad should be addressed, Mr. Mix said.

“Restrooms are the most important,” he said.

Mr. Finn said council members are supportive of solving those needs, Mr. Finn said.

Presumably, the restrooms would be included in the new bathhouse building. At this point, a consulting engineer projected the bathhouse would cost $1.1 million.

It might not cost that much if the pool wasn’t built because there would be no need for showers, the mechanical system for the pool also would cost less and the number of men’s and women’s restrooms could increase, City Engineer Justin L. Wood said.

The city also would be more inclined to spring for spending $26,000 for better insulation and installing a boiler to make the building heated all year, he said.

While he hasn’t thought about expanding the splash pad, Mr. Wood said it could be built on the footprint of the now-demolished pool if that project doesn’t proceed.

“It’s a logical place in the vacant pool area,” he said.

Utility work could easily be completed for the splash pad because of the hole created by the old pool getting removed.

However, there could be some potential issues with the capacity of wastewater usage at the site if the splash pad was added, but Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner likes the idea.

The city provided $170,000 to the existing splash pad project, with the state kicking in $50,000. The remainder of the funding came from the Friends and other fundraising efforts.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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