Roslindale Neighbors: Flaherty Pool renovation questioned

Some Roslindale residents are saying the year-long closing of the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Flaherty Pool for renovations is too long, that some portions of the project are unnecessary and that the City’s community process was inadequate.

The City countered that the renovation is needed, the community outreach was “sufficient” and that the one-year closure will lead to a state-of-the-art facility that Roslindale residents deserve.

The Flaherty Pool, which is located at 160 Florence St., is slated to close next month for a $5.6 million renovation that includes upgrades to the exterior, all mechanical systems, the locker rooms and the pool itself.

But Alan Wright, a Roslindale resident who has swum at the pool for the past 15 years, said only basic upgrades should be done, such as getting the hot water system fixed, and that the other renovations are not wanted.

“We want the pool to work, but we don’t want to lose it for a year,” he said.

Adam Frost, another Roslindale swimmer, echoed Wright’s sentiments. He said while there are some swimmers who want all the renovations to happen, he’s part of a swimmers group that questions if there isn’t a better way to spend the City’s resources.

“I think this plan is foolish,” said Frost.

He also said that the pool is not replaceable and that it’s a valuable public resource that is going to be closed for an extended period of time.

Sandy Holden of BCYF said that the renovations are “absolutely” needed and that “it’s not at all fluff.” She said that the pool is currently sinking into the ground because of an underground creek. As part of the renovations, pilings will be placed underneath the pool for support.

“It’s not something you do unless it’s necessary,” said Holden.

Wright and Frost both criticized the City’s community process, saying just one meeting, which was held in June, was not enough. They both felt the City was not interested in hearing the community’s feedback.

“This is what we are going to do. Period,” Frost said was the City’s position at the meeting.

Frost also said that the City issued a “pretty effective threat” during the meeting saying, “We have this money now. If we don’t spend it, we could lose it.”

Holden said she felt the meeting was “very productive” and the City has implemented most of what the people suggested. She noted that West Roxbury’s Draper Pool was scheduled to undergo renovations at the same time, but after a suggestion from the meeting, it was pushed back until the Flaherty is done.

“I think our outreach was sufficient,” said Holden. “I think we had an open line of communication. I’m not aware of any concern that we have not been able to address.”

When asked about the criticism about the year-long closure, Holden said, “I don’t see it as a problem. It’s a really good thing for the community to get a state-of-the-art facility. We’ve been responsive to any question or concern.”

She said that the West Roxbury Education Complex Pool will be available to Flaherty swimmers and that the City is currently working out scheduling with the school. It is a concern of Wright and Frost that there might be restrictions when they would be able to use the pool.

Holden that BCYF has been requesting for the project to be a priority on Mayor Thomas Menino’s capital plan and are “thrilled that it was selected to happen this year.”

“We can’t afford to continue to Band-Aid repairs to the building. People deserve more work to be done to it,” she said.

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