Bill Graham, project manager for Weston & Sampson, the contractor working on the $4 million Alfond Municipal Pool project, stands Thursday with Matt Skehan, director of the Waterville parks and recreation and public works departments, at the pool complex. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Work on a $4 million project to replace the pool and do renovations at the Alfond Municipal Pool Complex on North Street is nearing the home stretch, with the facility expected to open Saturday, June 19.

The city hired Weston & Sampson, based in Reading, Massachusetts, to do the design and construction work. Crews have been working on the site since last August.

“These guys are right on schedule for our opening June 19, and we couldn’t be more excited,” Matt Skehan, director of both the Parks & Recreation and Public Works departments said Thursday.

The project includes not only replacement of the main, or lap pool, but also that of the zero-entry pool (a gradual decline) that opens into the lap pool. Rockport Post & Beam built a new, 20-by-40 foot wooden shade structure, and Weston & Sampson workers made improvements to the pool house so it complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Stalls, sinks, benches, changing stations and other features are all in compliance.

New water slides were installed at the complex in 2019 as part of the project, but were used only three days before the season ended and then last year the whole facility was closed because of the pandemic, according to Skehan.

“Basically, this is all new — people are going to be psyched,” he said.

Skehan was at the site Thursday morning with Bill Graham, project manager for Weston & Sampson, who said the new pool system is state-of-the art and includes a new circulation system.

The old pools had cracked, causing water to seep in, but now it is water tight, according to Graham, who also installed the Olympic-sized pool in the new Harold Alfond Athletic Center at Colby College.

“The city is thrilled with the service and productivity, from Bill to the engineers to the construction crew,” Skehan said of the contractor. “The key to this system is, the maintenance will be so minimal, for 20 years, plus or minus. It’s going to be much better. If people are thinking it’s a renovation, that’s an injustice. It’s a whole new pool.”

Matt Skehan, Waterville parks and recreation director and public works director, talks Thursday to Bill Graham, project manager for Weston & Sampson, the contractor working on the Alfond Municipal pool project, under a new shade structure built by Rockport Post & Beam. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

The project would not have been possible without funding from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which contributed about three-fourths of the cost, according to Skehan. The city contributed $1 million toward the $4 million total.

“The pool was built 22 years ago with the cost split between the city and the Alfond Foundation,” he said. “Now we have a $4 million facility where the Alfond Foundation was generous enough to fund three-quarters of it. We couldn’t do it without their help. I just want people to recognize that.”

Workers on Thursday were installing a soft walking system under the new liner of the pool, which makes it cushioned. They also were working on the new concrete decking.

The pool has a new heating system that allows the city to regulate the water temperature and make it user friendly, Graham said.

Skehan said that, given the high cost of construction and maintenance for such facilities, the city had a strong interest in identifying savings and revenues so the pool can be as self-sufficient as possible. That was especially important as the pool neared the end of its lifespan.

The city’s parks and recreation board will hold a budget meeting at the end of May when pool fees for the upcoming season will be discussed, so no set fees are in place yet, according to Skehan.

The facility opened to the public in 1999. Because the conditions were found to be failing in 2016, proposals were solicited for an engineering study to determine what needed to be done and a study identified numerous problems with physical and mechanical infrastructure, according to Skehan. In the fall of 2017, the deteriorated slide complex was identified as needing replacement and that was replaced in 2019.

Graham said he has enjoyed working on the pool project and loves working in Maine. He said Massachusetts has pools all over the state, but none compare to Waterville’s new one.

“They have no pools like this,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

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