BANGOR – The grass-roots organization Friends of Dakin Pool announced Wednesday evening its plans to raise $100,000 this summer for repairs and additions to the east side pool. The announcement was made at the pool with local neighbors, balloons and rubber ducks in the background.
It is a textbook example of exactly how the democratic process should work, Tom Sawyer, a former state senator, said at the kickoff of the fundraising campaign.
“A group got up on their hind legs and stood up to government,” Sawyer said. “The people said, ‘We our going to impact our own future,’ and they have.”
Seventeen months ago a small group of concerned residents rose up against the City Council when the future of Dakin Pool was threatened.
Sawyer, who brings fundraising expertise, is the group’s honorary campaign chair. The former Bangor mayor also grew up with the pool, and got his first taste of responsibility when he became a lifeguard.
The group will offer naming rights to local residents and companies in exchange for a donation. The funds will build a new bathhouse, put in new lockers and set up a picnic area, Alicia Nichols, the campaign director, said.
“It will be a broad-based community campaign,” she said. “Gifts will come in all sizes, from cans in local stores to the naming rights.”
The pool is on its way to reaching its goal, as it has amassed $23,500 in corporate donations, and even donations from the younger population.
On the sunny evening, Nichols was handed a bank envelope from Dylan Murray, a youth from Ellsworth, who had spent all day swimming in the pool. When Nichols opened the envelope she found $100.
The fundraising is in answer to the City Council who told the group they must raise the money for the facility themselves.
City councilors and others questioned the pool’s necessity with its dwindling attendance and the opening of the Beth Pancoe Municipal Aquatic Center on the west side in 2004.
“Quite frankly, without them [Friends of Dakin Pool], it would have closed,” Frank Comeau, the director of Bangor Parks and Recreation, said.
Comeau stressed the importance of Dakin Pool.
“It is a good contrast to the Pancoe pool, it is very active there. Dakin is more relaxed, and people can bring a young child or an older person,” he said.
In an address to the group, Comeau saluted the organization for its “tenacity and perseverance.”
Bangor City Councilor Geoff Gratwick said, “They did not allow government to restrict their hopes and desires.”