Registration Underway For Underwood Pool Summer Season

Photo:

Registration for Belmont residents to purchase membership to the Underwood Pool is now underway. Any remaining passes will be released to non-residents on June 1 at 8 a.m.

Opening day at the Underwood is currently scheduled for Wednesday, June 23. The closing day of the pool is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1. 

Belmont Recreation Commission’s video on the new summer season at the Underwood Pool

Public swim block will take place from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily while the pool is opened. Each public swim block will last for 1 hour and 50 minutes and will include a 10 minute transition. 

  • 10 a.m. – Noon
  • Noon – 2 p.m.
  • 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. 

There will be two primary options for gaining access to the pool:

  • Memberships passes
  • Daily Drop-in passes

MEMBERSHIPS: Under the current COVID-19 state guidelines, the Underwood pool capacity is limited to 50 percent of the bather load or 165 people at the pool at a time. If the restrictions loosen, we will be able to register residents for more passes and guarantee more visits per week.

FAMILY ($305): We have 520 FAMILY passes available. These are family passes that admits everyone in your household account

INDIVIDUAL ($110): We have 82 of these available
. These passes are singular passes for one person

SENIOR ($50): We  have 25 of these available.
 These are individual passes for people 65 years of age and older.

Passes will be available to resident to purchase though out the summer until we sell out. On June 1, if there are any membership passes remaining, Non-residents will be allowed to purchase the remaining passes. If a waitlist forms, residents will be given priority.  

NON-RESIDENT FEES:

FAMILY – ($610)INDIVIDUAL – ($220) There is no Senior option.

DAILY DROP-IN PASSES
There are 40 drop in spots available per time block
Child Resident: $10
Adult Resident: $15
Child Non-Resident: $20
Adult Non-Resident: $25

Pool members are guaranteed a minimum of two visits to the pool per week. Reservations for any given week will be open to members the Monday morning at 8 a.m. the week prior. They will remain open until they are sold out or until that morning.

On the morning of any given day, Belmont Recreation will release any un-claimed member slots back to all member. This will enable members to book additional time at the pool. It is possible for a member to attend the pool more than twice a week depending on the demand and availability. 

Drop in passes will open three days in advance of any given date to Belmont resident. They will open two day in advance for Non-residents.

Facing Too Many Obstacles, Town Shuts Down Underwood Pool For Summer

Photo: Underwood Pool will be closed this summer

A host of health, operational and financial risks proved overwhelming as the Select Board voted unanimously not to open the outdoor Underwood Pool for the summer season at the Board’s Monday, May 18 remote meeting.

“It’s the latest victim of COVID-19,” said Select Board Chair Roy Epstein referring to the novel coronavirus that has created so much uncertainty in that it has led to the cancellation or delay of many annual local events – the Memorial Day parade and the town election just to name two.

Not that the Select Board’s unanimous decision was a shock as the Recreation Commission revealed the same litany of issues thwarting the pool’s opening back in April.

The leading issue facing the Recreation Department was keeping patrons safe from the virus. Social distancing requirements – keeping patrons six-feet from each other – and other safety issues would limit the number of residents in the pool to 70, a quarter of a normal summer attendance.

“I don’t see how you can keep kids six-feet apart running around the pool,” said Select Board member Adam Dash, forcing lifeguards to spend more time on social distancing than water safety.

Another obstacle is the extensive prep work required to open the pool. The pool takes six weeks of lead time to get it up and running and that pre-work would need to begin by next week.

There is also a potential problem of having the manpower to get the job done. The town uses a team of low-cost prisoners from Middlesex County to do much of the physical preparation such as painting, repairs and landscaping. Currently, that option could be hard to come by. And the South Shore firm the town contracts to start and maintain the pools pumps have laid off most of their employees.

The biggest hurdle facing the Rec Department was how the pool was going to break even financially. In the memo to the Select Board, the Recreation Department was able to cobble together an abbreviated nine-week season starting July 1 that could recover cost. But that model would require capping the number of bathers at any time to 50 with a $14 admission fee to spend a predetermined 1 hour and 45 minutes at the pool.

Recreation Commission Chair Anthony Ferrante said the Recreation Department came up with its model based on a real community demand for opening the pool which would “be a really good morale boost for the community.”

But as Dash noted, the scheme doesn’t recognize rainy or cold days or if people will be comfortable spending time in a fenced-in area while COVID-19 remains active and deadly.

“There is a scenario that’s relatively narrow where [the pool] makes money or breaks even but many more scenarios where it goes very badly financially,” said Dash.

“I think there’s a lot of risk in opening the pool financially or health wise,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator.

Recreation To Refund Residents As Pool Season Unlikely, Summer Programs ‘In Holding Pattern’

Photo: Lifeguard Elizabeth Levy, 17, watching over the wadding pool at the Underwood Pool on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015.

Registration for Belmont Recreation Department’s summer programs were going like gangbusters on the first of March as residents signed up their kids for the popular S.K.I.P. (Summer Kids Interested in Playing) Program and 170 pool passes had already been requested.

Then on Tuesday, March 10 “everything kind of went sideways,” said Jon Marshall, recreation department director and assistant town administrator speaking to the Recreation Commission via Zoom on Thursday, April 23.

That day Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts. And by the end of that week, the registrations and requests “all came to a screeching halt,” said Marshall.

Since then, the Recreation Department – which has already canceled all its spring programs and classes – had been looking to some way to salvage the summer activities including the popular Underwood Pool season.

Brandon Fitts, the assistant recreation director, had put together a hopeful plan looking at July 1 as the best date for the pool season to open. But that would require the town to give the department an OK to proceed by the first week of May as it requires two months in preparation to open the pool. It’s anticipated Baker will be extending the stay-in-place order by at least two weeks to mid-May.

Even if the facility opens, the big question, according to Select Board’s Adam Dash, is how to implement social distancing onto the swimmers and bathers in both the pool area but also the changing rooms, bathrooms, the grounds, and the admission’s area. Fitts said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending pools have a 25 percent swimmers/bather limit of the facility’s maximum, which at Belmont’s 325 max would be 82 people.

“From a public health point of view, I think this is a nightmare waiting to happen,” said Commissioner Kathryn Jones. “You’re never going to keep [young adults] six feet away from each other all the time.

Then there is the real question if anyone will want to come to the pool during a pandemic. “If we do open, we will have fewer people there. It’s either going to be from the COVID-19 situation or it’s just going to be the economics of it. I think we’d be lucky to have somewhere around 25 percent of what we did last year … it’s certainly a big impact,” said Marshall.

But the biggest obstacle facing opening the season is cost. While the pool has been a large revenue generator for the town, due to a later date opening and forced limitation on the number of people at the facility, the latest projection is the pool will be running a $171,000 deficit.

“Obviously the concern is this going to just be a big money lost if we open it. Not to say that is the be-all and end-all but we do have to take that into account,” said Dash, who said if the town is willing to open the pool at a deficit, that cost will come from another service or department.

While the pool season looks ever unlikely to occur, the SKIP program and other summer Rec Department events are currently “in a holding pattern,” according to Marshall. “I think if we do offer programs, they’re going to have to be different than the size and what they were going to be,” he said.

For example, the SKIP program takes in 80 children a session which requires the use of the gymnasium and the kitchen at the Wellington Elementary School. If there are changes due to social distancing or the lack of needed space, “we will need to change the fee structure. That’s only fair,” he said.

The Rec Department is now determining how it will refund the $125,000 it has taken in for SKIP registration and pool passes. “People are asking for them and I don’t want to hold that money out,” said Marshall.

With all the issues, Rec Commission members were nearly unanimous in feeling that a pool opening is simply not feasible in 2020. Chairman Anthony Ferrante said he would defer a vote on a recommendation to the Select Board until the commissions next meeting in May, “the governor may very well make [a decision] for us.”

Underwood Pool Opens Saturday, June 23, Blasting Off The Summer Swim Season

Photo: Underwood Pool

Summer rockets Saturday, June 23, as the Underwood Pool’s season begins with the Belmont Recreation Department’s  9th annual Summer Blast Off at the pool at the corner of Concord Avenue and Cottage Street.

Sponsored by Belmont Youth Activities and D.A.R.E. Inc., there will be games and music, a dunk tank, music, free hot dogs and chips, and swimming and splash about from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A membership or day pass is required for entry.

The Underwood Pool is open from June 23 to Sept. 3.

The pool is open during the peak season to Aug. 17 from Monday to Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, Sunday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The late-season runs from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3 with the pool open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Information on fees and schedules can be found at the Belmont Recreation Department web page.

Labor Day Washout: Rain/Wind on Final Day of Underwood Pool Season

Photo: Underwood Pool

It’s looking like it will be a wet end of what had been a gloriously hot and sunny swimming season at the Underwood Pool as the remnants of a hurricane that struck Florida on Thursday wanders its way to the region. 

The National Weather Service has already issued a hazardous weather outlook for Belmont and most of lower New England beginning Sunday night and lasting into Tuesday. While the track and intensity of the now Tropical Storm Hermine remain a question mark for the area, expect rain and gusty winds for Monday and into Tuesday. 

The pool is scheduled to be open this holiday weekend from 10 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. and on its final day, Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

No word from staff at the pool or the Recreation Department whether the pool will open for a final, rainy day. But stay tuned to the Belmontonian for updates.

Pool Memberships Stable for Residents, Increases for Out-of-Towers

Photo: Underwood Pool, Belmont. 

Preparing for the first full season of the still “new” Underwood Pool in the summer of 2016, members of the Recreation Commission told the Board of Selectmen Monday night, Dec. 15, that visitor season and daily passes will see significant increases as the town prepares for a deluge of swimmers beginning in June.

“Last year was a like a shakeout cruise,” said Recreation Commission Chair David Kane of the one month the pools were open in August. “We were just trying to understand what we need to do to be enjoyable.” 

This coming year will be “more holistic,” said Kane, which includes the new price tag on using the facility.

While nearly all Belmont residents will not see an increase in tag prices for the 2016 swimming season, Kane said non-residents will feel the “bite” of a big increase for the pleasure of frolicking in Belmont’s new pools.

According to Kane, prices for Belmont residents will be:

  • Family season pass (two adults, up to four children): $225 before June 30/$250 after July 1.
  • Adult season pass: $150
  • Child season pass: $110
  • Day pass/adult: $10
  • Day pass/child: $5

For non-Belmont residents, prices will be:

  • Family season pass (two adults, up to four children): $375
  • Adult season pass: $225
  • Child season pass: $175
  • Day pass/adult: $20

In comparison, two years ago the non-resident family pass was $225 and a year ago $265. 

“It is high,” said Kane of the new costs, but noting the commission had received “some complaints of overcrowding on certain days” and there is some hope that the new price structure will deter some non-residents swimmers from coming.

Staff members will ask for identification to determine residency. 

In addition, there will be a 25 percent military discount while seniors will no longer have the option of a lifetime charge of $50 a year. 

When asked if Belmont should place a hard cap limit on the number of non-residents, commission member Ann Bere – who conducted a review of pricing patterns in neighboring communities – said the group will review the membership data in late May so “we’d know if non-resident passes is at a level where we’d be at a level that we would need to set a limit.” 

Bere said she believes the new costs will self-limit the number of out-of-towners coming to the Underwood. 

You’re Invited! New Underwood Pool Party Set for Aug. 8

Photo: Invitation to Belmont’s big pool party,

You’re invited to Belmont’s biggest pool party of the year as the town celebrates the opening of the New Underwood Pool.

After years of planning, a debt exclusion vote and a last-minute fund raiser in September to save the original proposal, the $5.3 million two pool complex with a pair of buildings housing changing rooms, showers and restroom facilities will hold its grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 8.

The ribbon cutting will take place at 1:30 p.m. with a community open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Belmont Recreation Department will be providing one-month single and family passes to the New Underwood. For more information, call the department at 617-993-2760.

Below is your official invite:

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 4.22.50 AM

Invitation

Confidence: Rec Dept. Selling (Reduced) Summer Pool Passes

Photo: No swimming just yet.

The new Underwood Pool is not yet completed – in fact, there’s not much water in the one pool that has been finished – but the Belmont Recreation Department is confident enough that the two pool facility that’s being built over the former historic pool will be open for part of the summer, it is selling season passes for resident’s swimming enjoyment.  

Starting now and lasting until June 30, the Rec Dept. will be selling pool passes for $100.

“At this time we are planning for an Aug. 10 opening of the Underwood Pool. Until that time, we will offer public swimming six days a week, limited hours at the Higginbottom Pool at Belmont High School,” read a press release from the town. 

The pass will also be valid for the Underwood Pool the moment it opens until Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.

Residents can find out more about the public swimming schedule at the Higginbottom Pool this summer on the Recreation Department calendar online

Talks on Possible Private/Public Partnership to Rebuild Skating Rink Underway

Photo: Belmont’s ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink.

First, the White Field House. Then, the new Underwood Pool. Next, the town’s skating rink?

After two successful public/private partnerships restored and saved a pair of town/school facilities in the past year, word is spreading that negotiations are underway for a possible collaboration between the town of Belmont and either an individual or a group to renovate the town-owned ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink located adjacent to Harris Field at 297 Concord Ave.

“There are talks, but that’s all I know,” said Belmont Town Administrator David Kale after Wednesday’s meeting of the Warrant Committee, adding that he does not know who is the outside party who reached out to Belmont officials.

People in the sports community and town government have echoed Kale’s refrain: someone or a group has shown interest in renovating the rink, the condition of which is, at best, threadbare.

But other than acknowledging there are discussions, those in the know are keeping tight-lipped.

There is little debate the skating rink, owned by the town and run through the Recreation Department, is badly in need of a complete renovation.

Built in 1971 during the height of popularity of the Boston Bruins and their star, Bobby Orr, the nearly 29,000 sq.-ft. rink was originally an open air facility until the early 1980s when it was enclosed. The rink is home to the Belmont High School Marauders Hockey teams and Belmont Youth Hockey. The rink is also available to residents for recreational use.

 

The unheated rink is known for its steel panel walls with gaping openings that allow the frigid outdoor temperatures to seep inside. While many hockey players say the ice benefits from the blast of cold outdoor air making for improved skating, spectators are forewarned to bundle up before venturing inside. Several years ago, a visitor from Canada told the Belmontonian editor he attended games at outdoor rinks in Calgary which were warmer than the inside of the ‘Skip.’

It is unlikely the required work needed to upgrade the skating rink is on the horizon.

According to a recent study by the Capital Budget Committee, renovating the skating rink will cost an estimated $5 to $6 million. The committee also noted such a repair is not a current priority for the town; a new $20 million police station or a $28 million Department of Public Works Yard are higher on the list of needed capital projects.

For those reasons, a collaboration between the town and outside financing is the best chance for a renovated rink in the near future. In addition, Belmont is coming off two highly successful public/private ventures in 2014. A group of residents led by Frederick Jones contributed $100,000 and hours of sweat equity to extensively renovate the eight-decade old White Memorial Field House before the start of the 2014-15 fall sports season at Belmont High School.

Last fall, Belmont Savings Bank led the effort to raise $400,000 in public money by contributing half of the amount to save the construction of the new Underwood Pool after a low bidder withdrew its bid.

A Sunny Muddy Day at the Underwood Pool

Sunday was the perfect summer weekend day; sunny, warm and dry.

Dry, that is, until you mix water and dirt together and then send wave after wave of children racing on an obstacles course around the Underwood Pool on Sunday, Aug. 24 as the Belmont Recreation Department held its inaugural “Kid’s Mud Run” to give kids a chance to say goodbye to the century-old municipal pool. 

Belmont Recreation Department’s Program Supervisor June Howell and her staff spent the morning creating a course that included a downhill water slide, a tour of the Underwood Playground, sack races and two mud-filled children pools at the beginning and end of the “Tour de Underwood.”

At high noon, the children from 4 to 12 where sent along the route circling the pool – after 102 years, the facility will be replaced with a modern $5.2 million two pool complex approved by the spring Town Meeting in April – to the thrill of parents, friends and siblings.

“It was really nice,” said Grace McDonald, the winner of the girls’ 4 to 6 year old group. All winners received a Summer 2015 Family Membership and a trophy.

The winners are:

Girls’ 4-6: Grace MacDonald

Boys’ 4-6: Aaron White

Girls’ 7-8: Candace Burger

Boys’ 7-8: Adam Bower

Girls’ 9-10: Sylvia Davidson

Boys’ 9-10: Colin Fergason

Girls’ 11+ : Oliva Zarzycki

Boys’ 11+ : Sean Palmer

Finally, several Rec Dept. councilors and lifeguards took their lives into their hands in their own special race.

After the event, the pool was open to all for free with music, hot dogs and games for the remainder 0f the day.
The Underwood Pool’s final day will be Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1.