WALLINGFORD — Money concerns brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may delay the renovation of Community Pool into a multi-use park.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said in a letter to the Town Council dated April 20 that the town should postpone the project, which is on the verge of starting construction on the North Main Street Extension property.
He said that costs are more expensive than originally anticipated amid the stress of economic uncertainty and skyrocketing unemployment on the town.
“We are currently lacking the ‘normal’ planning horizons which permit reasonable prediction of future conditions,” he said in the letter.
“The Community Pool project … is a wonderful goal,” he said. “However, its reconstruction is not so time sensitive that we should burden our residents and businesses with a substantial new debt.”
The lowest construction bid came in earlier this month at nearly $6.2 million, not including contingency costs or the architect’s fee which drive the total price to an estimated $7.4 million.
In September, the Town Council approved a design concept at an estimated cost of $5.65 million, with optional features at additional cost.
Banton Construction Co., of North Haven, submitted the lowest bid at $5,756,332 for the base plan, which includes demolishing the existing pool and building a new 8,000-square-foot pool, large splash pad, a new 3,060-square-foot bathhouse, a 116-space parking lot, bus turnaround loop, shade structures and 12 new trees.
The bid included pricing for additional amenities, including $119,608 for a picnic pavilion, $187,820 for a playground, $36,960 for a water slide and $80,921 for a sand volleyball court, bringing the total construction cost to $6,181,641.
It’s unclear exactly how much would be added for contingency costs, though around 10 percent is standard.
In March 2019, the Town Council approved $625,000 for the redeveloped park design through an ordinance appropriating the funds and authorizing bonds. TBLA Architecture, of Chester, was the successful bidder.
The Town Council is slated to hold a public hearing on amending the funding ordinance during a remote meeting Tuesday. If approved, the amendment would increase the appropriation and bond authorization of $6,845,000, from $625,000 to $7,470,000.
The vote on the amended ordinance is slated to immediately follow the public hearing.
The remote Town Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and can be accessed through https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/923893957 or by calling 1-866-899-4679 and using access code 923-893-957.
Alida Cella, a pool advocate who ran the Save Our Pool Facebook page, said Monday that she found Dickinson’s position disappointing.
“Whether times are good or bad, the mayor is consistently reluctant to make capital repairs and investments in our town infrastructure,” Cella said via email, “and even more so if for items that offer social and recreational activity.”
She said that the pool project would create an opportunity to help the economy now.
“The longer we delay the more expensive the project will be,” she said. “When will be a better time to do this work, than when residents cannot use it right now anyway? Our community, more now than ever, needs something to look forward to when all of this is over.”