23 Aug 2014
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One More Summer For Underwood Pool

Feasibility study for new swimming facility will effect new library, police headquarters.

One More Summer For Underwood Pool

The century-old Underwood Pool will have a 101st season this coming summer.

That was the outcome after the Belmont Department of Public Works accepted a half-dozen proposals from local engineering firms who are bidding to conduct a feasibility study to build a new swimming facility at the Underwood Playground, according to Ann Marie Mahoney, chairwoman of the Capital Budget Committee that met Thursday, Oct. 18.

The six firms – CDM Smith of Cambridge, BH&A, Weston & Sampson and Warner Larson, all of Boston, Blair Hines Design Associates of Brookline and Marshall/Gary of Wakefield – selected by DPW Director Peter Castinino will determine whether a community pool can be placed on the plateau a few hundred feet from the existing facility at the foot of Concord Avenue and estimate a cost of the project.

Pat Brusch said it should take Castinino less than a week to select a winning firm to conduct the study and should be on-board in early November.

The feasibility study will provide the Capital Budget Committee and the town to secure adequate funding before bringing the proposal before Town Meeting in May 2013.

Since the study's results will be presented in late spring, major construction would not occur until spring 2014.

The study will also allow time for the town or residents to submit a Community Preservation Act request – a new source of revenue taken from a surcharge on real estate value that was approved by town voters in 2010 – that could help reduce the cost of rebuilding the very popular recreational spot.

The cost of a new pool has not been calculated but a new pool recently built in Waltham came in at $5 million. 

The DPW move forward on a pool's feasibility study keeps alive an ambitious sweeping plan that resembles domino's falling across town in which several town departments move to new locations in one sweeping move, including the construction of a new library.

Earlier this month, the state presented a $7.5 million grant to the Belmont Board of Library Trustees for the construction of a $19 million library that would be built across Concord Avenue from the present site.

Yet the present location would require school department permission as it would the result of the lost of the High School's softball field. And the school would not transfer title to the trustees unless another field replaces that one.

If the pool is moved, the former site would then be turned into a playing field and transferred to the school department.

The Trustee are expected to come before the Town Meeting in May 2013 to ask permission to establish a building committee that will review the plans and create a financial blueprint for the new library.

In addition to the new library and pool, the domino proposal calls for the Belmont Police Department to move from its threadbare headquarters across Concord Avenue from Town Hall to the existing library location.

The act would allow the old police headquarters to be coupled with the abutting former Municipal Light Department building to be developed as a commercial/residential project.

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