NAUGATUCK — Nearly five years after the Hop Brook Pool was closed, borough officials are discussing a project that will make a splash.
The pool, which was in disrepair, closed in 2011. In 2012, borough officials decided against spending $250,000 to make temporary repairs to reopen the pool. In 2014, voters rejected at a referendum a proposal to spend $1 million to completely fix and reopen the pool. The pool was subsequently demolished and filled in.
Now, borough officials are considering building an outdoor splash pad where the pool once sat next to Hop Brook Elementary School on Crown Street.
Public Works Director Jim Stewart presented the project to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses at its March 1 meeting.
The proposal calls for building a Vortex Aquatic Structure Splash Pad — an area where children play while sprinkler devices spray water from various locations — for $86,650. Children would press a pedestal and the water will spray out of a different location each time, Stewart said.
“It’s on for two or three minutes and then the system shuts down, so if no one is using it, it is not wasting water,” Stewart said. “Then the kids would go back and hit it again and guess where the water is. It keeps them running around.”
The money for the splash pad would come from about $93,000 the borough had originally set aside to make repairs to the pool, Stewart said. The funds would also pay for an additional obstacle for the splash pad above what is in the $86,650 expense.
The borough could add additional obstacles, the cost of which would depend on what items officials want, Stewart said. Also, the project calls for building a playground at the site in the future for about $87,000, he said.
If built, the splash pad would be open from June through August, Stewart said. This is a month longer than the pool, which used to only be open only in July and August.
Stewart estimated the annual cost to run the splash pad would be about $22,000, which includes $12,000 for summer personnel and $10,000 for additional water costs.
“In comparison to the old pool, we used to spend $31,000 a year in personnel costs and $7,000 in water every year,” Stewart said. “So we would see a significant reduction in what we used to spend for the pool.”
In addition to the splash pad, the borough would have to repair the building that was used as a changing room for the pool, Stewart said. The repairs would include fixing the roof and replacing the doors. The work would cost at least $20,000, he said.
Deputy Mayor Robert Neth felt the project would be a benefit to the neighborhood and the borough, but expressed concerns about the cost. When it’s all said and done, he said, the reality is the project will cost more than $200,000.
Neth wasn’t the only one who had concerns about the cost. Resident Kevin Kuzma told the board he didn’t think this was the best way for the borough to spend money.
“I think there are just a lot of questions about this project. One of the biggest ones is, and I don’t know the answer, is there a need for a playground in that area,” Kuzma said. “If the answer is yes, then I am all for the playground aspect of this and keeping the cost well below $200,000. I just think the splash aspect is not necessary.”
Neth was also anxious about potential vandalism. He pointed to the skate park as an example of a park the borough built that was damaged by vandals.
“It’s a big concern, vandalism. Especially on a project of this nature. We’re trying to benefit the town and benefit the kids, but we do have some bad apples out there that do create havoc,” Neth said. “The police department is right up the street, but who’s to say some kids aren’t going to go down there and wreck the property. At that point I’d say shut it down and the heck with it.”
The borough board took no action on the proposal last week.The proposal is on the agenda for a special Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.