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Community's views about indoor recreational space sought

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Swimming-pool group included in effort

UPDATED: The Arlington Recreation Department is in the early stages of performing a study about indoor recreational space aimed at understanding the current and future indoor recreational needs of the community. 

A-Pool, a town-based group, seeks to build an indoor swimming pool in Arlington as part of that effort with a community meeting set for Thursday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 27 Maple St.

Whether you are part of a group in town, a lifelong resident, new to town or just interested in this study, those involved encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas at the meetiny.

The study is to guide the department's planning and decision making related to indoor recreation facilities and programming, including gym space, active program space and aquatic space. 

 The department plans to schedule a series of community-engagement meetings to help ensure future service delivery aligns with the needs of residents.

Any questions or comments can be directed to the Recreation Office at recoffice at town.arlington.ma.us.

History of pool plans

The initial plan, floated in September 2017, was to have a pool included in the rebuilding of Arlington High School, but state funding-agency rules prohibited pay for projects that include pools. Discussions with the town about a pool led officials to include it in an effort to build a new indoor recreational facility in Arlington.

Jeremy Gregory of A-Poll said in a Jan. 2 email that the need for such a facility is driven in part by the fact that the GIbbs, which the Recreation Department had used for indoor activities, has been renovated as a sixth-grade school.

Town funding was approved last year to pay for a feasibility study for a facility that could be used for a range of indoor recreation activities, including aquatics. A firm was selected to conduct the feasibility study, and it is soliciting feedback from the public on the effort. 

"We encourage you to attend the meeting and voice your support for the inclusion of a pool in the facility," the email said. "The more people from the community who make it known that aquatics are a priority, the more likely it is that the facility will include a pool."

Signers included Alison Goulder and Kate Radville. The following was published earlier:

Pool effort can't use community-preservation funds

The pitch to add an indoor pool at a revamped Arlington High rolled out in earnest at the 2017 Town Day, but the efforts by A-Pool have run into rules keeping the group from making a splash. 

Community-preservation funds are no longer an option.

Radville, a member of A-Pool, has told YourArlington that the Community Preservation Committee cannot contribute the money it controls, because indoor facilities are not eligible.

Eric Helmuth, chair of the CPA Committee, confirmed that Oct. 10. After some research, he wrote, the CPA Committee determined that it cannot fund the feasibility study, because building indoor recreational structures are not eligible CPA projects under state law.

The state Department of Revenue, which oversees CPA in Massachusetts, says that any CPA-funded feasibility study must be directly related to an allowable purpose, he added.

Seeking alternative options

Radville wrote Oct. 6, 2017: "We will seek alternate routes for funding for a needs assessment/feasibility study."

That could include making a request later this year to the town's Capital Planning Committee and fund-raising, both suggested at the Oct. 3, 2017, AHS school-building committee meeting. 

A-Pool, a group of town residents who attended the first AHS Building Committee meeting last December, aimed to include an indoor pool in the school's design, but at the Oct. 3 meeting, the group was rebuffed by the Mass. School Building Authority and then sought $20,000 in community-preservation funds.

Appearing at public participation of the building-committee meeting were Renee Piazza and Radville. They spoke about about having year-round access with a pool that would serve students and the community.

Piazza noted much support and energy at Town Day. "People are excited," she told the committee.

A petition supporting including the group in a feasibility study has 731 signatures as of Oct. 10, 2017. 

School Committee Chairman Jeff Thielman, who also chairs the AHS committee, said a pool can't be funded by the MSBA, and he suggested applying for money through the Community Preservation Act.

A-Pool had already done that, applying by the Sept. 29, 2017, deadline. The CPA committee is to make its first round of decisions by its Oct. 17 meeting. Helmuth said no funding decisions are made at this phase.

The committee plans to make a determination of proposed project eligibility for CPA funding and provide informal feedback to applicants. A-Pool has already received its feedback. 

Applicants who pass this eligibility screening will be invited to submit final, detailed proposals that were due Dec. 8, 2017. 

Efforts in Winchester,  Wellesley

Radville said in 2017 that A-Pool members have spoken to similar groups in Winchester and Wellesley, where pools were underway. Read this account in the Swellesley Report >> 

Chapdelaine told Piazza and Radville that A-Pool is "on right track" in seeking CPA funding, and suggested also pursuing money via the town's Capital Planning Committee.

The available pool in Arlington is at the Boys & Girls Club. Its space does not accommodate all practices for the Arlington High swim team.

Chuck Adams of Skanska, the owner's project manager, said the MSBA has required the building with the pool to be separate from a high school that receives authority money.

Thielman added that the architect chosen by the MSBA cannot add a pool to its design.


Oct. 4: 3 finalists chosen to design revamped Arlington High
Opinion, Sept. 27: Ready to dive in to support including a pool at new AHS?

This news summary was published Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, and updated the same day to provide overall context.

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