Long wait for dip
Swimmers still waiting for pool to reopen
Swimmers longing for a dip in the Carbonear Swimming Pool are going to have to wait just a little longer before taking the plunge.
It will be the end of this month or early May before the pool is ready to reopen its doors to the public.
That’s the latest word from officials with the Town of Carbonear, which operates the facility.
When the pool closed for renovations Jan. 17, the original target date for reopening was set for the end of March. But due to unforeseen delays, a new target date of April 11 was set. Now town officials are hesitate about setting a firm date.
“ We’re still shooting for the end of the month, but it’s hard to nail down a definite time,” the town’s director of public works, Brian O’Grady, said at an April 18 town council meeting.
Work has been ongoing all winter on the installation of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to replace an aging and inefficient oil-fired boiler system. The new system incorporates a new pool dehumidification system and heat-recovery technology.
Converting the building from an oil-fired to an electrical system has meant an extensive electrical upgrade. Besides having to remove all the old duct work and replace it with new, the project involved having to relocate the electrical entrance, according to town administrator Cynthia Davis.
“Most of the new duct work has been completed and they are now finalizing the electrical work,” Davis told The Compass last week.
Public works director Brian O’Grady, meanwhile, explained that to convert the building from 220volt to a 600-volt service a new transformer had to be installed. A new heat recovery ventilator was also installed on the roof to replace the old exhaust fans over the change rooms.
New steel beams had to be installed to support the new units mounted on the roof.
“ The biggest piece left,” O’Grady said April 20, “is to get the electrical system to the point where it can be switched over to the new system. One of the units on the roof has to go where the existing service is. They can’t install it until the old service comes out. And they can’t remove the old electrical system until they are prepared to tie in the new system. Once the contractor has everything in place, a provincial government electrical inspector has to inspect and approve the work before issuing a certification number to Newfoundland Power, giving the green light to re-energize the building.”
O’Grady expected all that to be completed by late last week.
The delays in the pool reopening came in for some discussion at the April 18 meeting of the Carbonear town council.
Reminding council of its earlier reopening target dates, Deputy Mayor Ches Ash said, “now we’re into mid-April and we’re still not certain of that (reopening) date.” The deputy mayor said he was “quite concerned with the project delays.”
Suggesting, “this is a very significant delay,” Ash said, “I don’t know if it’s the contractor, unforeseen issues or a combination ... but we should be taking every step to ensure the pool reopens as soon as possible.”
The new system is expected to mean significant savings in heating costs to help offset the cost of borrowing money to cover the town’s share of the project.
The contract to carry out the project, valued at just under $900,000, was awarded to Air-Tite Sheet Metal Limited, a St. John’sbased firm.
The project is being cost-shared between the province, which is providing two thirds ($600,000) of the funding, while the town is responsible for the remaining one third.
Cynthia Davis noted some of the provincial funding for the project came from the Department of Environment and Conservation’s Green Fund.
The new system is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 75 tonnes annually.
When all the bills are in, the overall cost is expected to reach $1 million. But as of last week, Davis said the project was still on budget.
While the town is responsible for $ 300,000 of the cost, the town administrator had told The Compass late last year they had also applied for funding to the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and were hoping for approval from ACOA, which would reduce the town’s share to under $200,000.
Last week the town administrator said they were still awaiting word from ACOA on the funding request.
Asked about income revenue losses while the pool is closed down, Davis explained any losses of income from fees etc. during that time are being offset by savings in operating expenses.
She noted when the pool closed earlier this year, the heating system was shut down immediately and staff were laid off. The facility employs three full-time and eight to 10 part-time staff, mostly students. So the town has been saving money in heating fuel and labour costs during the three months it has been shut down.
While the pool is a popular regional recreational facility, it does not make money. If the pool costs approximately $370,000 to operate annually, approximately $200,000 of that would be covered by income revenue from fees etc., leaving Carbonear taxpayers to subsidize the facility to the tune of approximately $170,000.
When they first enter the building after the pool reopens, regular users will immediately notice some cosmetic changes. Council is sprucing up the building with a new reception desk in the main lobby and all the interior walls, including those around the pool deck, have been painted using new colour schemes.
The current three-and-a-half month closure is not the longest in the pool’s history. About a decade ago it was closed for more than a year while awaiting a new roof to be installed.
Millions have been poured into the 37-year old steel and concrete block structure over the past 37 years since then Carbonear MHA Dr. A.T. (Gus) Rowe and premier Frank Moores declared it officially open in 1974.
From top to bottom the structure has been refurbished with everything from a new roof to a new pool liner, installed eight years ago.
Standing at the bottom of the Carbonear Swimming Pool, public works director Brian O’Grady points to the new duct work that has been installed as part of a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system at the pool.