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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.

Jeanne E. Craigie June 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM
They must pay someone for that job!!
Mark Ouellette 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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