Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Work OK'd to keep Horowitz Pool in use this summer

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
February 22, 2007

VERNON - The rapidly deteriorating Horowitz Pool will get a reprieve starting this spring under a renovation plan that will repair the crumbling pool and adjacent bath house incrementally over the next few years.

The work - which will be done in three phases and ensures the pool will be open this summer and throughout the next 12 or so swimming seasons - was approved unanimously by the Town Council Tuesday.

"Our goal was to get it open for the summer and keep it operational for at least 10 years, and that's what this option does," Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said, adding that after five years the council should begin serious discussions on what to do when the life span of the circa 1950s pool does eventually end.

In March the council hired TLB Architecture for $30,000 to study structural conditions at the large inground Horowitz Pool and the adjacent wading pool and pool house in Henry Park and formulate a solution.

Each spring, depending on the severity of the preceding winter, chunks of concrete fall out of the top of the pool. Much like perennial potholes in the roads each March, the cause is frost, Principal TLB owner Michael P. Fortuna says.

Each fall the water level of the concrete pool is lowered by 18 inches to keep underground pipes from bursting. But when the ground water behind the pool walls freezes, it pushes against the cement walls, causing cracks, breaks, and even chunks to fall out, Fortuna said.

As time marches on, conditions will only worsen and the patching ritual performed annually by maintenance staff will no longer help, Parks and Recreation Director Bruce W. Dinnie said, adding that if nothing is done, the pool isn't expected to last for more than two years.

Total cost for the multiyear renovation is estimated at $660,000, with $20,000 needed for immediate repairs. Of that, $15,000 will come from the Parks and Recreation budget with the remaining $5,000 is to come out of the council's unappropriated fund balance.

For phase two, $75,000 will appear in the town's 2008 capital improvement budget, while the balance of $565,000 should be included in the 2009 facilities maintenance plan.

A new pool similar to the Henry Park site would cost the town about $1.5 million, Fortuna told council members.

Town workers will do the majority of the renovation in the first two phases, with immediate stopgap work being done to patch plaster and walls of both the inground and wading pools, repair leaks to the skimmers, apply sealant to the decks, and paint both pools.

Phase two will address repairs to the curtain drains and trenched pipes while the bathhouse gets new structural beams, roof, gutters, and downspouts.

An architect and engineer will need to draw up plans for phase three, which involves the most intensive portion of the overhaul.

Constructed in 1953, the pool underwent minor renovation in 1990. It serves hundreds of children and families during the summer and is an important asset, town officials say.

The town has two pools - Horowitz Pool at Henry Park and the community pool at Center 375 - as well as the popular swimming area at Valley Falls Park.

©Journal Inquirer 2007