By DANIEL KITTREDGE The Budlong Pool is set to remain closed, as planned, for the second consecutive summer, although an alternative option is being explored. Anthony Moretti, director of administration for Mayor Ken Hopkins, told the City Council on
The Budlong Pool is set to remain closed, as planned, for the second consecutive summer, although an alternative option is being explored.
Anthony Moretti, director of administration for Mayor Ken Hopkins, told the City Council on Monday that several factors make the feasibility of reopening the nearly century-old Budlong Pool this year “very difficult.”
But he said initial conversations have been held with Cranston Public Schools officials about making the indoor pool at Park View Middle School available for community use this summer.
“We’ll see where that goes,” he said.
The Budlong Pool was closed last year due to COVID-19, and Hopkins, in his April budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, chose to keep it closed this year as well. At the time, much uncertainty remained over the degree to which pandemic-related restrictions would remain into effect into the summer. The budget, including the pool closure plan, has since been adopted.
Citywide Councilwoman Jessica Marino addressed the pool’s status during Monday’s meeting, saying she brought the issue up based on outreach from residents who have sought to have the facility open this year.
Marino said she had not promised those residents the pool would open, but that she would take “every effort to try and make it happen.” She thanked the administration for its “earnest attempts” to address the issue.
Calling the pool a “treasure,” she added: “I think it’s important that we make every effort next year to have this not be the case … I would hate for next year to be telling the residents again, ‘We can’t open the pool.’”
Moretti thanked Marino and other council members “for being supportive and understanding of the situation.” He acknowledged that pandemic restrictions were lifted far more quickly than city officials had expected.
“Certainly, it’s a disappointment for everyone,” he said of the pool’s continued closure.
At this point in the season, Moretti said, a number of challenges exist in terms of reopening the pool. Funding would have to be secured for its operations, given that the adopted budget plan does not include those resources. Staffing, including lifeguards and pool attendants, would need to be secured, and filling similar positions has proven challenging at similar facilities in other communities.
There is also the question of the pool’s readiness, given that it has been closed since August 2019. Marino urged that next year, officials conduct an early review of the pool’s readiness, likely in the spring, to ensure it is ready to go for its traditional summer schedule.
Tony Liberatore, the city’s former director of parks and recreations, also discussed the maintenance aspect of the pool reopening. Opening the facility, he said, is “not just turn on the switch and have clear water.”
“There has never, ever been a guarantee that when you hit that start button, that pool is going to operate properly, because it is so old,” he said. “Over the years, we have replaced many, many of the major mechanical issues with it. But when there’s a pump or motor involved, sitting for almost three years, there could always be an issue.”