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Stoneham's State Legislators Weigh in on DCR's Decision to Close Pool

Senator Katherine Clark and State Reps. Jason Lewis and Jim Dwyer discuss the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's decision to not open Hall Memorial Swimming Pool this summer.

Stoneham's state legislators are "disappointed" they weren't notified about Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) decision to not open this summer.

Legislators learned of the closure following Stoneham Patch's June 22 .

"I am disappointed that DCR unilaterally decided to close the Hall Memorial Swimming Pool, amongst others in the DCR system," wrote State Rep. Jim Dwyer in an email to Stoneham Patch.

Why was the Stoneham Pool Closed?

The Stoneham swimming pool was closed for a variety of reasons, according to an email to Stoneham Patch from a DCR spokesperson.

"The decision to close the Stoneham swimming pool was not made lightly, and we at DCR recognize the affect on the communities involved," wrote DCR spokesperson S.J. Port. "However, given our limited resources and after careful consideration of all the options, the decision has been made to move forward with not opening this swimming pool in 2012.

"In making this decision, we evaluated the attendance at all facilities for the past four years and found that Stoneham was one of the lowest use pool facilities in terms of daily attendance. We also looked at its proximity to other facilities."

In 2011, the average daily attendance at Hall Memorial Swimming Pool was 62, the second lowest in the system, according to Port.

While Hall Memorial Swimming Pool may be closed, "DCR will keep the wading pool, playground and restrooms in Stoneham open to maintain a presence in the community," wrote Port.

Port added that the pool's closing was temporary and it could be reopened in 2013 when funding becomes available.

Readers Upset About Pool Closure

On June 22, Stoneham Patch readers also expressed their displeasure with the DCR's choice to forego opening the Stoneham pool in 2012. 

"Pretty sad..given all the land the DCR controls in Stoneham and we lose services and tax revenue from!" wrote Stoneham resident Jeanne Craigie. "I would ask everyone with children to call your representatives and senators and have them right this yet another injustice to young Stoneham families. Terrible news!"

Meanwhile, reader Tricia wrote: "So, all the bus loads of kids that are dropped off, and all the local kids that use that pool and 'Stoneham was one of the lowest use pool facilities in terms of daily attendance?' That is just INSANE! Come on people we need to do something about this. I have (two) kids who are VERY disappointed and I am sure there are other kids and families in this town who are outraged with this decision."

State Legislators Take Action

Upon hearing of the Stoneham swimming pool's closure, Dwyer said: "I plan on getting together with my colleagues in the Stoneham delegation, Rep. (Jason) Lewis and Sen. (Katherine) Clark, to emplore the DCR and the Patrick Administration to reconsider their decision."

"The pool, while numbers are apparently down, still functions as a place for Stoneham residents to go to during the summer," wrote Dwyer. "During times where the economy impacts families hard, place like the , the Fells, and the Hall Memorial pool provide outlets for 'staycation'-type activities where families have opportunities locally to enjoy their summer, and it also benefits the local economy as well."

In an email to Stoneham Patch, Clark added: "I and my staff had numerous conversations with DCR on Friday and have a call into Commissioner (Edward) Lambert and have written a letter. I have asked for attendance records for the pool going back a few years because low attendance last summer is the cited reason for closing the pool, but the pool was shut last summer for repairs for several weeks. I will be working with DCR, town officials and Stoneham’s state representatives to see how we can open the pool this summer."

On Monday, Lewis wrote to Stoneham Patch about the unexpected closure of the pool.

"I share the disappointment and frustration of my colleagues in Stoneham’s legislative delegation about the decision of the DCR to close the Hall Memorial pool this summer," wrote Lewis. "The DCR gave no notice regarding this closure to Stoneham’s legislative delegation, town officials, or Stoneham residents who use the pool, giving us no opportunity to explore all potential options to keep the pool open.

"I’m hopeful that the letter the delegation has sent to DCR Commissioner Lambert along with the outcry from Stoneham residents will lead the DCR to reconsider their decision."

Communication Breakdown

Dwyer said he understands the frustration Stoneham residents have about the swimming pool closing, but he's also upset over the handling of the situation.

"My biggest point of contention is that DCR did nothing to inform myself, or the Stoneham Legislative delegation, that the closing of the Hall Memorial Pool was even under consideration, nevermind a done deal," wrote Dwyer. "Obviously, this is a lack of communication between DCR and the community. Decisions shouldn't just be based on statistics. It has to be a decision with the local impacts, including economic impacts, discussed and kept in mind.

"When DCR lacks the common sense to inquire with local and state elected officials about a potential closure or change of policy that directly impacts a community, it's mind-boggling."

Clark concurred with Dwyer, saying: "I was surprised and frustrated that the pool was not going to be open. Especially in a down economy, families need affordable, healthy and fun recreation opportunities for the summer."

"I understand that DCR’s budget has been cut, but think there should have been formal notice to the public and legislative delegation so we could have advocated for the funding in the budget," wrote Clark. "Many Stoneham residents have contacted me and feel justly angry that their pool was closed when so much of DCR land is in Stoneham." 

Clark concluded by saying: "I certainly understand the frustration that roughly one-third of Stoneham land is controlled by DCR, and yet a wonderful Stoneham resource was shut down. I do not believe this decision was based on anything more than budget constraints, but the pool closure was not decided upon in an open process and that breeds cynicism."

What do you think about the DCR's decision to not open Hall Memorial Swimming Pool this summer? Let us know by posting a comment in the comments section below.

Spartan438 June 25, 2012 at 04:36 PM
This is another case of our officials not understanding the pulse of our town. I never met anyone in Stoneham who used the pool regularly. State Reps and town officials please spend your time on something more meaningful like making Stoneham a more attractive town. When I work in Boston, I have to mention Melrose or Winchester to get people to understand where I live.
Tricia June 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
"During times where the economy impacts families hard, place like the Stone Zoo, the Fells, and the Hall Memorial pool provide outlets for 'staycation'-type activities where families have opportunities locally to enjoy their summer, and it also benefits the local economy" ...I totally agree. Not everyone can just get up and go on a trip or jump in their own pools. It is nice to be able to stay in your town and visit locally.
Jeanne E. Craigie June 25, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I disagree with Spartan438, I am aware of many families that use this facility and Trisha is correct, not everyone has the means to own a pool or go to one. I don't use it now, but did since I was very young and now as a taxpayer I think other families should be afforded this service. One third of our land controlled by DCR and we lose a service, yet LL Bean can use Spot Pond for Kayak lessons, we pay to go into the Zoo, we pay for the boats and our fire and Police do all the work when they are needed?Just another injustice to this Town!
Representative Jason Lewis June 25, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I share the disappointment and frustration of my colleagues in Stoneham’s legislative delegation about the decision of the DCR to close the Hall Memorial pool this summer. The DCR gave no notice regarding this closure to Stoneham’s legislative delegation, town officials, or Stoneham residents who use the pool, giving us no opportunity to explore all potential options to keep the pool open. I’m hopeful that the letter the delegation has sent to DCR Commissioner Lambert along with the outcry from Stoneham residents will lead the DCR to reconsider their decision.
Mark Ouellette (Editor) June 25, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Hi Jason, Thank you for your comments about the Hall Memorial Swimming Pool situation. I'll add them to the story.
Jeanne E. Craigie June 25, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Mark--thanks for making this a priority issue for Stoneham families with children. The Commissioner acted hastily without collaboration with the delegation or Stoneham Officials.This is a major reason why the citizens don't trust our government--I have received numerous calls from families, while I have no jurisdiction on this matter as a member of the School Committee, I do have a responsibility to advocate for my Town and its children! I urge everyone to call the DCR Commissioner's Office and the Governor whether you have children or not this is not a good decision and a good reason to stand up for what is right and just!!
Spartan438 June 25, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Jeanne - Please remember that as an elected official you need to look forward and not backwards. I used the pool as a kid but this is 2012. I found the pool outdated anyway. The town pool or whatever it is in Melrose is better maintained. You make a good point about residents not receiving a discount at the zoo. Thanks
Jeanne E. Craigie June 25, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Perhaps that may be your perception, it is not mine--Why is Melrose better maintained--last time I looked we pay the same taxes as those residents, did they deliberately dismantle our pool area?? If we never look back we will never understand the history going forward . Have you been on the DCR land in our Town--deplorable--broken gates, trash littered,and no access for our residents. Our families deserve a well maintained pool and area to enjoy without leaving our Town. it is my guess you have a pool, I know I am elected but I have a voice just like you and in this case I am using it! If they change the Commissioners mind great , at least we tried. I stand behind my words and deeds I don't need a code name to express my opinion..run for office if you care to stand up and be heard!
Trish June 25, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Jeanne, thanks for being so passionate about this and expressing the concern of many families in Stoneham. Many of the families and children that I know in Stoneham are extrememly disappointed about the pool closing. I am a Stoneham resident, my son is 7 and many of his friends and families use the pool and have for several years. It is a great place to catch up with local families and spend time together without having to spend money. It is such a huge benefit to Stoneham to have this facility fully open and functional.
Mark June 25, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Jeanne, Thanks again for being an advocate for Stoneham and their families. It seems to me our representatives are more concerned with not being notified. Sad! This brings up so many issues. Jeanne you hit the nail on the head. Our tax dollars are called upon when police and fire are needed at one of these facilities. This will drive kids to sneak swim at Spot Pond. Which will put them in danger of drowning. Why is a private for profit business being operated on Spot Pond and our citizens have to pay to use our own resources? Don't even try to use Wrights Pond in Medford if your from Stoneham. The state is already short changing us with their Chap 70 funny math. Our State Reps can find the money to fund Illegal Immigrants health care, employing interpreters for children of Illegal Immigrants in Everett and other cities in this state and giving our tax dollars to the Kennedy Family for a shrine to Ted! All at the expense of the children of Stoneham!
Maureen McGinness June 26, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Hello, my name is Maureen McGinnes and may I first say that if you don't have the integrity, honesty and guts to post an opinion with your own name on it - you really don't matter? No-one knows who you are, why you care and what this community means to you - it's just gutless noise! As a person who has only lived in this community for 5 years, I have paid a good fee to YMCA summer program to Melrose Family YMCA of Stoneham for my kid to swim at the DCR pool twice a week. Now that she is FINALLY old enough to swim in the big pool, she can't and will be forced to wade in a pool with toddlers in diapers. Not so much fun when the YMCA touts that as part of their summer program. I Challenge your opinion that the Melrose/Malden pools are "So much better". Let's go do a site visit? I have been to Melrose and Malden and all I have to show for it is several parking tickets, because there is absolutely no way that either of those pools can handle the additional volume of Stoneham residents and users of the DCR pool. I don't have a pool and whether I use the DCR pool once or five times during the summer, it's nice to have place in our community where I can take my kids!!! I am supporting this cause on behalf of Stoneham. Will you? Openly and honestly?
Tricia June 26, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I would like to know how they keep attendance when you just walk right into the pool area?
Jeanne E. Craigie June 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM
They must pay someone for that job!!
Mark Ouellette (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Hi Jeanne, You're welcome! If we receive any additional updates, we'll do a follow-up story.
Don June 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I go near that pool quite regularly, as I work out in the area roads and start there. It is in a bit of dis-repair to put it gently. It does not look clean and very over grown. My opinion is that it is not usable, but are the officials not telling anyone this? Maybe another pool is needed or an upgrade. Good tactic to do this, let the other one destroy itself and neglect it, tear it down and then built a new one with more money. That is how State Govt works.
Tricia June 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Nice! Very well said!!!
Tricia June 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Wasted money on someone walking around with a counting gadget! There is no money being past from hand to hand to even keep count! As I can see, they seem to be digging themselves deeper and deeper! Bet they thought Stoneham was a "quiet" town, and that we would just bow down to that decision. Boy are they wrong!

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