Opinion sought on pool bid vote

Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Three or four votes.

City Manager Rick Finn said Saturday that the city is contacting its bond counsel to see whether it will take three or four votes to move forward with the long-debated pool project at Thompson Park.

Council members are expected on Monday night to decide whether to proceed with the project to replace the old pool at the historic park.

Mr. Finn recommends rejecting the bids after City Engineer Justin L. Wood determined the total projected cost of the pool and bathhouse project would be $3,042,193, leaving an almost $900,000 shortfall.

However, Councilman Cody J. Horbacz plans to move forward with accepting the bids that came in over budget. It would simply take transferring money from the city’s reserve account to make up the difference, he said.

“It will take just three votes,” he insisted Saturday.

He’s getting support from council members Ryan Henry Wilkinson and Lisa A. Ruggiero to accept the bids.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler and Councilwoman Sara V. Compo oppose accepting the bids and want to reject them.

Last year, council members approved a $2.4 million bond for the pool with the commitment of not spending any more money than that on it.

Mr. Finn is having Comptroller James E. Mills research whether there’s something in the $2.4 million bond that would require four votes.

“There’s a lot of work being done to get an answer,” he said.

Contacted Saturday, Mayor Butler was unaware of the last-minute maneuvering by the city manager.

He surmised that accepting the bid and using money in the reserve account would take a simple majority of three votes, so he was surprised to hear the issue remains unclear.

On Saturday, Councilwoman Compo said she has not changed her mind and plans to vote to reject the bids.

“I’m concerned with the cost, especially since the cost is so much more than the $2.4 million,” she said.

She also stressed many constituents have told her the city should not spend so much money on a pool that would be used just two months of the year.

According to a memo from Mr. Finn, the city spent $369,522 to design the pool and another $157,000 to demolish the old one. A $200,000 state grant would reduce the amount of the bond to $2.2 million, according to the memo. As a result, the city would have to add a total of $900,000 for the project to proceed.

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.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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