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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Greenwich Pool May Get New Lease on Life

GREENWICH, Conn. – The Junior League of Greenwich scored a small victory when the town’s budget proposal included partial funding for renovations to Byram’s public pool. But the organization’s president says there are still many hurdles before the project can become a reality.

“It’s not money in the Parks & Recreation bank yet,” Anne Miller, president of the Junior League of Greenwich, said Tuesday. The project is slated to receive $150,000 from the town if the budget is approved. It would pay to complete the design that would be submitted to Planning & Zoning for preliminary site plan approval.

“It’s difficult to make a serious ask to a donor if you don’t have a packet which includes a vision,” says Miller. “The money we’re asking for now will help us create that vision.”

The existing pool has been in use since the property was gifted to the town in 1973. It leaks, which increases water usage by 40 percent, according to the town’s budget proposal. The pool can accommodate only 40 people, which leads to long lines. The adjacent building is in poor condition and requires funding for repairs.

“Without a champion like the Junior League, [the pool] may never get addressed because it’s not top priority for health and safety,” said Miller. “There’re certain things that need an advocate to have any kind of forward movement on.”

The park’s Master Plan received funds in the capital budget in fiscal year 2011-12, offset by a portion of the Parks & Recreation Foundation account. It calls for a new pool; new pool support building; new beach entry structure to include beach restrooms, ticketing, and concession stand; and a new parking pattern. To do this, all existing structures would have to be removed.

An overall estimate for the project has not been made because a feasible design has not been made. Of the $100,000 in funds from last year’s capital budget, $31,200 has been spent. The $150,000 included in this year’s budget proposal would be used in addition to the money leftover, to complete a design to submit to the town.

In his presentation to the Board of Estimate and Taxation Budget Committee on Monday night, First Selectman Peter Tesei said that based on financial models, construction is not anticipated to begin for at least five years. “I support this initiative, but it must be absolutely clear that the schedule of existing projects and our maintenance obligations will take precedence over the construction of this project in the coming years,” said Tesei.

Because the project would be funded through a private-public partnership, Miller says a project committee is working to determine how to meet the challenges of raising funds for the likely multimillion-dollar project.

“We refer to some of our members as ‘The Jedi Knights of the Junior League.’ They have skills to train our younger members who have not worked on larger campaigns. We’re going to raise the money and use it as an opportunity for some of our members to learn how to even do it,” said Miller. “The group has compiled a list of potential donors, there have been some quiet conversations happening.”

When the proposal was unveiled, some residents said the town should explore other areas for a public pool. Miller said Byram Park is in an area of town where most residents don’t have home pools or boats, or belong to exclusive clubs. “I think as far as people saying we shouldn’t be doing this now, there’s never going to be a time where this is going to be considered a priority by certain people,” said Miller.

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