Len­noxville now look­ing to re­place Cen­ten­nial Pool

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Gor­don Lam­bie

Af­ter years of say­ing that the pool build­ing at Cen­ten­nial Park needs to be com­pletely re­built, and an in­creas­ing num­ber of trou­bles with the basin it­self, the Len­noxville Bor­ough Coun­cil is now say­ing that the swim­ming pool as a whole will need to be re­placed. Fol­low­ing a con­cern ex­pressed by a res­i­dent at the most re­cent meet­ing of the coun­cil, Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Claude Char­ron told The Record that the most cost-ef­fi­cient way to deal with the pool’s many prob­lems is to de­mol­ish it com­pletely and build new from scratch.

“To ren­o­vate would be very ex­pen­sive,” Char­ron said, ex­plain­ing that the pipe sys­tems for the cur­rent pool and ad­ja­cent wad­ing pool are poured into the con­crete, mean­ing that ac­cess­ing them for the nec­es­sary main­te­nance would re­quire de­mol­ish­ing part of the ex­ist­ing basins any­way. That in mind, he said that it makes more sense in the long term to com­pletely re­build now rather than patch things up and then face an­other costly ren­o­va­tion a few years down the road.

The bor­ough pres­i­dent said that the prob­lems with the pool have been in­creas­ing in re­cent years. The pool build­ing was high­lighted as prob­lem­atic by Sher­brooke’s Au­di­tor Gen­eral in 2013. Short-term cor­rec­tive mea­sures were taken to fix the ven­ti­la­tion prob­lems raised in that re­port, but at the same time the bor­ough and the city be­gan the process at that point of look­ing at how best to build a new struc­ture that would bet­ter serve the park as a whole.

Then-bor­ough pres­i­dent David Price

orig­i­nally told The Record that a new build­ing would be built in the Fall of 2016. The sum­mer be­fore that, how­ever, Sher­brooke changed di­rec­tion on the pro­ject, choos­ing to go af­ter a Canada 150 com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture grant that could have con­trib­uted as much as $500,000 to the es­ti­mated $1.25 mil­lion needed to re­build and ren­o­vate.

Ac­cord­ing to Char­ron the city never got that grant and so the pro­ject went back to the draw­ing board.

“It will be the bare min­i­mum,” the cur­rent bor­ough pres­i­dent said, not­ing that the orig­i­nal plan of a build­ing that could serve the pool, ten­nis courts, and win­ter skat­ing rink as well as hav­ing bath­rooms that could be ac­cessed year round will not be pos­si­ble. While that pro­ject was fall­ing apart, he added, the prob­lems with the pool sys­tems mul­ti­plied, lead­ing to is­sues like this sum­mer’s com­plete clo­sure of the chil­dren’s wad­ing pool.

The pro­posed so­lu­tion, ac­cord­ing to Char­ron, is to re­place the cur­rent pools with a beach-style pool of the sort the city has in­stalled at the Saint-alphonsede-ligouri Park near the Beck­ett woods. In 2016, Price told The Record that a con­ver­sion to a beach pool in Len­noxville would be un­wel­come and too costly for the com­mu­nity, but Char­ron said that the cur­rent coun­cil feels dif­fer­ently.

“One pool means one set of pipes,” the bor­ough pres­i­dent said, adding that the sloped en­try of the re­designed pool means bet­ter ac­ces­si­bil­ity for peo­ple with re­duced mo­bil­ity and young chil­dren. Although the de­sign lim­its the pool’s use­ful­ness for peo­ple who might like to swim laps, he ar­gued that there are not many peo­ple us­ing the pool for that pur­pose and that any­one who wants to swim laps would be bet­ter off go­ing to the pool at Bishop’s, to which Sher­brooke res­i­dents get a re­duced ac­cess rate.

The Bor­ough pres­i­dent said that use of the pool in gen­eral has been in de­cline since the Len­noxville Day Camp moved to Bishop’s, and sug­gested that the re­newal of the space might help gen­er­ate new in­ter­est.

What is un­clear, at this point, is how the work will im­pact lo­cal swim­mers once it gets started. Char­ron as­sured The Record that the bor­ough would avoid cut­ting into the swim­ming sea­son as much as pos­si­ble, but he pointed out that at this point in the pro­ce­dure it is im­pos­si­ble to say when all the pieces will be in the right place for the work to get started be­cause the plan still has to be ap­proved and bud­geted by the city coun­cil, which is not likely to hap­pen un­til early next year. Ac­cord­ing to a city rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the work to de­mol­ish and re­build the Saint-alphonse-de-ligouri pool in the new style was done com­pletely in the pool’s off-sea­son, al­low­ing it to re­open to the pub­lic at the same time as all the other pools in the city.

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