Purple Heart Day Includes A Day At The Underwood Pool For Serving Military

Photo: The poster for the National Purple Heart Day Observation Ceremony in Belmont.

Belmont will be holding a National Purple Heart Day Observation Ceremony at Belmont Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Concord Avenue and Underwood Street on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

The event will be co-sponsored by the Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee and VFW Post 1272.

In assocation with the day, the Belmont Recreation Department is providing a free day at the Underwood Pool at Concord Avenue and Cottage Street for all active duty military personnel and their immediate family, occurring on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.

Belmont Issues Heat Advisory, Opens Cooling Center At Beech Street, 1/2 Price Pool Admission

Photo: The Underwood Pool will have reduced admission during heat advisory.

Due to the upcoming period of high heat and humidity, the Beech Street Center at 266 Beech St. will be open as a cooling center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and Wednesday, July 16-17.

Additionally, the Underwood Pool at the intersection of Concord and Cottage will be open Monday July 15 through Wednesday July 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is half price admission for Belmont residents until the close on Wednesday.

“We encourage everyone to stay cool and hydrated. We ask that you check on elderly friends and neighbors, along with others, who may need help during this period of high heat and humidity,” said a message from the Belmont Police Department

Why Wait? Underwood Pool Opening One Day Early On Wednesday, June 19

Photo: Early opening for the Underwood Pool

The children are out of school for the summer, and a heatwave has descended on Belmont. Why wait to open the Underwood Pool? So, the town’s Recreation Department has decided to start the 2024 summer pool season one day early on Wednesday, June 19.

The pool, located at the corner of Concord Avenue and Cottage Street, will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the last day of Spring.

The June 19th opening is being sponsored by Belmont Youth Activities and D.A.R.E.

Summer’s Here! Underwood Pool Season Starts Wed., June 22 With Kick Off Pool Party Sat., June 25

Photo: Summer is here as the Underwood Pool opens for the 2022 swim season.

Summer in Belmont officially started on Tuesday, June 21 just before 6 a.m. with the sun setting on the longest day of the calendar year at 8:26 p.m. (Compared that to sunset in Reykjavík, Iceland that occurs at 12:04 a.m., the next day!)

But everyone knows summer really comes to Belmont when the Underwood Pool at the corner of Cottage and Concord opens for the swim season. And that will occur on Wednesday, June 22 when the facility opens at 10 a.m. for its three-day “preseason.” The facility will be operating on a limited schedule – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – from Wednesday to Friday, June 24.

The pool will begin its “peak” season from Saturday, June 25 to Aug. 21 when the hours are lengthened from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And on the first Saturday, the Belmont Recreation Department will hold a kick-off summer pool party dubbed Summer Splash-Down. The celebration, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include ice cream courtesy of the Belmont Public Library, giveaways, food trucks and music from local bands Vibe Check, So Blue Jazz and a Led Zeplin cover band. Entry to the pool and stuff will be with a pool membership or a day pass.

For all information about the Underwood Pool – membership, day passes, rules and regulation – go to the link here.

Rec News: Underwood Pool To Open At 100% With Unlimited Residential Passes; Outdoor Movies At Town Field After July 4th

Photo: The Underwood Pool from 2019

Responding to the re-opening of public places as state COVID-19 restricts are being pulled back, the Belmont Recreation Commission unanimously voted on Thursday, June 10 to open the Underwood Pool to 100 percent capacity on Wednesday, June 23 with an unlimited number of family and individual passes (aka tags) for residents seeking to cool off this summer.

Residents interested in applying for a pass or more should go to the Recreation Department webpage.

Due to the lifting of the restrictions, patrons will no longer need to pre-register to attend the pool at specific two-hour blocks of time. According to Rec Department Director and Assistant Town Manager Jon Marshall, two green areas will be sectioned off and have spaces marked off “for people who are a little less comfortable can go to.”

As of Friday, June 11, any resident wanting a pass will receive one with the department limiting the number of non-residential passes to those on the waiting list.

So far this season, the Belmont Rec Department has issued 598 family, 104 individual and 62 senior passes – a total of 2,600 people – as the town had prepared to open the pool at 50 percent of capacity. It also has 110 non-residents on a waiting list, according to Brandon Fitts, rec department assistant director. In 2019, the town issued 1,050 tags.

Residents who purchased tags in the belief the pool would be at 50 percent and wish to cancel their passes will only have until June 21 to receive a full refund. Passes will also be sold at a reduced rate later in the season. The cost of passes are $305 for families; $110 for individuals and $50 for seniors.

Films on the Field

At Monday’s meeting, Fitts also announced a free summer-long movie series sponsored by the Rec Department and the Belmont Council of Aging. Using a generous donation from a Belmont couple, the Rec Department has purchased a projector/sound system and screen which will be set up at the Town Field baseball diamond on Thursday evenings.

“We worked really hard with a number of town departments to make this all a reality,” said Fitts, saying the department will screen seven family friendly movies. The events will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. running from July 8 to August 19.

It will be an opportunity for residents to come to the field and bring a picnic dinner [Remember: Town Field is a Carry In, Carry Out play area so bring a bag to remove any refuse]. The town will also hire a group to bring games, set up basketball hoops and “Gaga ball” pits for kids to play until the film begins at 8 p.m. Residents will also be able to use the restroom facilities at the adjacent Beech Street Center. One commissioner suggested “off the record” bringing food trucks to add some culinary choices to the night.

Fitts also said since the sound system will be owned by the Rec Department, there are opportunities to use the equipment for other events around town such as having music at the Underwood Pool, special events, and a possible “Rock the Rink” skating party at the “Skip” in which skaters circle the ice as high school bands perform.

The movies for this summer are the live version of “Aladdin,” the “Parent Trap” with Lindsay Lohan, “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” “Finding Nemo” and the movie version of “Grease.”

‘We Have A Summer!’ Rec Comm OKs Opening Underwood Pool For Summer Season June 23

Photo: Throwback Thursday, the Underwood Pool in 2019.

We have a summer! Let’s go!” said an excited Brandon Fitts, assistant director of Recreation, after the Recreation Commission voted unanimously to approve Belmont Recreation’s blueprint to open the Underwood Pool for a summer season at the Commission’s Wednesday, March 24 meeting.

The summer pool season will run from June 23 to the first of September according to Fitts, who led the plan for reopening the Underwood.

Residents can go to the Rec Department’s web page for more basic information on the coming swimming season beginning Monday, March 29, according to Fitts.

The opening comes after the pool was closed for the 2020 season due to the emergence of the coronavirus and uncertainties due to strict limits on participation – at the time 25 percent of capacity – and the town being uncertain it could recoup the expenses of operation at less than capacity.

And while there remains a cap on how many patrons will be able to come onto the site, it will be sufficient – even in a worst-case scenario – to meet its targeted break-even point of $290,000, said Fitts.

The start date for obtaining memberships remains up in the air as Fitts said the department needs to resolve some software issues with the registration system and will need to ramp up the office for what is traditionally a very busy first week of selling swimming passes.

Because there will be a smaller number of passes than years past, Belmont residents will have about a month when they can purchase family and individual passes before sales are open to non-residents beginning June 1.

Now under the state’s latest reopening plan (Phase 4, Step 1), pools can open for business at 50 percent capacity; in Belmont that would be 165 participants at any one time. Fitts told the commissioners Belmont Recreation is hopeful the state will increase the percentage this summer to 65 percent which would allow 215 people at the pool.

In the 50 percent capacity protocol, the town will sell 520 family passes and 107 individual passes while under 65 percent capacity, 625 family passes, and 125 individual passes sold.

During the season, residents will have the opportunity to reserve two 2-hour “blocks” per week, but if there are blocks with openings, residents can “theoretically could access [the pool] more than two ties a week, you’re just guaranteed it,” said Fitts.

On the safety front, Jon Marshall, assistant Town Administrator and director of the Recreation Department told the commissioners his department will use the same attendance tracking system at the pool as they had with public skaters at the town’s rink this winter.

On arrival at the pool, swimmers will sign a document verifying they do not have COVID symptoms and haven’t been in contact with anyone infected. If there is a reported positive case at the pool, everyone who was in the same block of time would be contacted, said Marshall, noting that there were no COVID-related incidents at the rink.

“I talk all the time with Diane [Ekman] and Wes [Chin] of the Health Department and fill them in … so certainly they’re aware of everything and we follow their guidance,” said Fitts.

The fee schedule is set as:

Resident Season Passes

  • Family membership: $305
  • Individual: $110

Resident Day Passes

  • Adult: $15
  • Child: $10

Nonresident Day Passes

  • Adult: $25
  • Child: $20

Nonresident Season Passes

  • Family membership: $610
  • Individual: $220

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 Patrons: It’ll Be Crowded This Weekend, So Here’s Some Rules To Know

Photo: Open for the crowds

With the expected weather forecast for this weekend calling for record heat, the Belmont Recreation Department is anticipating a high volume of users at the Underwood Pool at the corner of Cottage and Concord.

Following state code, the pool may not exceed 275 swimmers in the water at any given time. In the event that maximum capacity is reached, the lifeguards will need to rotate groups in and out of the water in 15-minute intervals to ensure compliance with the law. 

In addition, if the pool reaches capacity, the pool staff may need to limit the sale of single entry day passes.  

The department also wants to remind patrons of some key rules to know so to enjoy this town resource: 

  • Showers: A cleansing shower is required before entering the pool. Please apply sunscreen 30 minutes before entering the pool.  Sunscreen applied right before entry will wash off and impact water quality.  
  • Storm Related Closing: Upon hearing thunder or observing lightning, the pool will be closed immediately.  The pool will remain closed for one hour after the last sighting of lightning or last sounds of thunder.  
  • Membership Tags: As a reminder, membership tags are required for entry to the pool. If you do not have tags, you must show ID to the front desk staff to gain entry.  

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.