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.

Rec Dept. Says Good-Bye to Underwood Pool With Kid’s Mud Run

How do you say good-bye to an old friend?

How about a day of mud and fun!

That sounds just about right to Belmont Recreation Department’s Program Supervisor June Howell. After holding a successful season-opening event – the Summer Blast Off – for the town’s Underwood Pool in June, Howell began to think about holding some sort of celebration to mark the end of the life of “the “old Underwood” (this year marks the pool’s 102nd summer) and incorporating the kids seemed to be a great idea.

That’s when Howell remembered something she had been keeping in the back of her head for a number of years; a fun run around the facility with water slides, obstacles and mud.
Lots of mud. 
“Actually, my (adult) nephew told me about one he did and I researched to see how they adapted it for children. They are becoming quite popular.  So between looking at websites and using our imaginations, we came up with some obstacles and a course we think will be fun yet safe,” said Howell.
So at high noon on Sunday, Aug. 24, kids will be able to take part in the Rec Department’s first-ever Kid’s Mud Run at the Underwood Pool to recognize the last days of the century-old facility.
Kids between 4 and 12 will start off at a “mud pit” before heading up the hill to the playground above the pool where they will attack a balance beam, weave in and out between the swing set, carry wood then head back to the pool where after more challenges, they head to the sprinklers before wading across the kiddie portion of the pool to the finish line.
There will be four categories, boys and girls 4 to 6, 7 to 8, 9 to 10 and 11 to 12, with the winners receiving a Summer 2015 Family Membership and a trophy.
After the mud, the Rec Department will hold an open community day at the pool with no membership or day pass required to enter from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be music, hot dogs, swimming and games.

“I really think it’s going to be a blast for the kids,” said Howell. “And for all of us at the department too.”

You can find applications and a course map for the Kid’s Mud Run online at the Belmont Recreation Department Web site. (http://www.belmont-ma.gov/recreation-division)