Photo: The “deep” pool of the new Underwood Pool under construction.
Despite a last-minute financial monkey wrench that nearly stopped the project last September and this winter’s record snowfall, it appears that summer swimming is in the cards for Belmont residents as the team building the new Underwood Pool expects to have the twin pools open to the public by the first week in August.
While anyone going by the site at the corner of Concord Avenue and Cottage Street will not mistake it for anything but a construction site, “it will definitely look like a swimming pool in August when the water pours in,” said Henry Sarkis, owner of New England Builders, the general contractor, during a recent tour of the project.
Workers in waders are directing streams of cement into wooden frames that will become the pool closest to Cottage Street while power tools and nail guns are heard inside the partially completed pool and pump houses.
While the project was pushed back due to the 100-plus inches of snow that was deposited on the site over two months from January to March, “we feel we are on schedule,” Sarkis said.
The $4.6 million construction project began in November with the demolition of he original pool which was built in 1912 and was the oldest municipal outdoor pool in the US.
After a successful debt exclusion and funding from Town Meeting earlier in 2014, the project appeared dead in the water in September when an original low bidder of the project withdrew his proposal leaving the Underwood Pool Building Committee facing a deficit of approximately $400,000.
That figure was quickly erased with a $200,000 grant from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation and a community fundraising effort that raised more than $210,000 in small and large contributions by October.
Today, construction is in full swing. The so-called “deep” pool, which includes the diving area and lap swimming, is completed and cement is being poured this week into the shallow “kids” pool, said Sarkis.
Stainless-steel gutters will be installed by specialists from out-of-state beginning on Monday, May 11 and will take two weeks to complete the larger, deep pool nearest the Belmont Public Library. They then will return to finish the shallow pool by the end of May.
The filtration system has been delivered and is being installed to run the two pools. Sarkis said the three buildings are framed and have all the plumbing and electrical systems installed, and the grounds around the pool is being expanded with new trees soon to be planted along Concord Avenue.
According to Anne Paulsen, chairman of the Underwood Pool Building Committee, while the late date for the opening means the potential 2015 swimming season will be cut in half, the Belmont Recreation Department will be selling reduced memberships to residents so they can enjoy some time by or in the new pool.