By TAYLOR HARTZ
The town council moved last month to approve plans for the first phase of updating Memorial Park.
The council reviewed and approved a proposed plan for the pool house—the first step in a $900,000 redesign.
The plan expands the pool house, adding increased changing and storage space, handicap accessible amenities, and better office visibility, according to the design’s blueprint.
The new layout will include a larger area for men’s and women’s restrooms with showers and lockers on either side of the building. The space in between will add increased storage on the lower level and updated mechanical infrastructure on the upper level.
When Councilor John Barry asked if these updates were a priority, Town Manager Gary Brumback ensured that they were. Brumback explained the town’s two driving factors for prioritizing the updates—the current facility is outdated, wearing out and hard to maintain, and the equipment and mechanical room is unsafe.
The council moved unanimously to approve the phase-one site plan, and Brumback said they hope to move quickly over the next several weeks to approve the construction documents that will allow them to go out for construction bids.
While the next step is to move for bids—when the council approves the most appropriate and cost effective business to make the renovations—the passage of this plan means that the town will move forward with the design presented at the council meeting.
The approved plan’s design was led by architectural landscaper Phil Barlow of TO designs in New Britain, who is overseeing the master plan of the park.
The first phase of the plan has been overseen also by Tom Arcari, of Quisenberry Architects in Farmington, a consultant specializing in recreational spaces. Both Barlow and Arcari presented their plans to the council at the April 27 meeting.
Brumback said construction is expected to begin right after Labor Day, when the pools are closed for the season.
The cost of these updates was approved in this fiscal year’s budget, allotting for $900,000 in fully available funds, meaning no bonds or loans are being used for the project.
These funds were set aside specifically for Memorial Park, to make it “more efficient and easier to maintain, along with making it safer and more accessible” said Brumback.
Arcari explained that in the current Memorial Park pool house “all infrastructure for the pool is beyond its useful life, and presenting problems for the town.” In addition to the needed updates, the facility does not currently meet compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
Arcari said that, by expanding the facility by 40 percent, the design will make the pool house fully compliant with the ADA and will create the space necessary to update the mechanical infrastructure.
When it comes to maintenance efficiency, the plan will replace the current roof with a simpler, pitched roof style. This replacement will decrease the amount of leaks and water damage cause by the current roof’s valleys, making preservation easier and less expensive.
Recreationally, the pool house design includes the addition of a splash pad, which Arcari described as a level playing area with water features like fountains, sprinklers and drains. This feature is aimed toward younger residents with a flat surface that makes it fully accessible. It does not require as many safe guards as a pool and will increase usable pool space.
“The expanded facility will overall serve more people, and a greater diversity of residents,” said Arcari. While the improvement to the building will allow full access to the expanded space and the splash pad will increase recreational use, the replacement of the infrastructure ensures that the facility and its new features will stay viable for the community for many years to come.