The juxtaposition at the official groundbreaking for the new Underwood Pool was as glaring as the brilliant morning sunshine on Friday, Nov. 21.
Residents, business leaders and town official attended the ceremony heralding the building an outdoor summer time pool complex wrapped in parkas and scarfs while wearing gloves, boots and hats to brave one of the coldest days since last March.
Yet the cold, blustery conditions – it took several fire department personnel to keep the large American flag hoisted from the town’s ladder truck from blowing away – did not place a damper on the enthusiasm of the celebration.
“The pool is dead; long live the pool,” said Adam Dash, vice chair of the Underwood Pool Building Committee before the open pit where the century old pool once sat. If all goes to plan – the weather will determine when opening day will occur – the area will be teeming with residents using two brand-new pools this coming summer.
“Thank you all for coming here to witness this historic event; the first time in a 102 years that we’ve had a ground breaking for an Underwood Pool in the town,” said Dash
The history of the new pool complex replacing the historic facility built in 1912 is well known, beginning two years ago through the urging from Peter Castinino, the retiring director of the town’s Department of Public Works, funded via a Community Preservation Act funds, Town Meeting funding and a debt exclusion in April 2014, the sudden need to raise $400,000 after a contractor abandoned the project which was successful in October due in large part to the generosity of the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation which donated $200,000 and the work of building committee member Ellen Schreiber.
“Things like this don’t happen too often so this is a real Red Letter Day for the town of Belmont,” said Robert Mahoney, president and CEO of Belmont Savings.
“This will always be the Underwood Pool but I think this is the People’s Pool. More than 450 families contributed to our matching grant to make this happen, from as small as $10 to $25,000. It’s a people’s effort and I’d like to congratulate all of us to make this happen,” said Mahoney.
Helen Baker, a descendant of the Underwood family that deeded to the town the land which the pool was located, thanked the bank’s “generous gift” and the other donations making the project possible.
In addition to the Underwood relatives, the town recognized DPW workers who “worked tirelessly to make sure the pool opened each season even after it exceeded its useful life,” said Belmont Board of Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas.
Finally, with wind chill temps in the mid-teens, the officials and residents who worked to make the project a reality took shovels in hand to “break ground” at the site.
Hopefully, the wardrobe for the pool’s ribbon cutting will be strictly summer attire.