BANGOR – Nearly two years ago, a group of concerned citizens pleaded with city officials to save Dakin Pool.
On Tuesday, many of the same people were before the city’s planning board for site plan approval for a series of improvements aimed at ensuring the small pool at 8 Stillwater Ave. is available for years to come.
During a meeting at City Hall, the planning board voted 5-0 to approve the site plan, paving the way for the construction of two new support structures. They are a new 1,000-square-foot pool house that will include restrooms, a first-aid station, lifeguard office and outside showers, and a new 120-square-foot mechanical room to house pool-related equipment, including the pool pump and filtration system.
Plans also call for installing fence to create a grassy picnic and play area near the pool, repairs to the pool deck and a new walkway, according to Michael Robinson, who heads Friends of Dakin Pool, a local nonprofit group formed to keep the pool open.
Robinson said the group is nearing the end of a $100,000 fundraising campaign that has won the support of local businesses, individuals, service groups and educational institutions, to name a few.
Planning board member Hal Wheeler lauded the local effort to keep the pool open.
“In my opinion, this is going to have to be the way money is raised [for projects the city is unable to fund] for the foreseeable future,” he said.
At issue was the pool’s dilapidated bathhouse, which is in poor shape and is not accessible to people with disabilities.
“To say it’s in sad shape would be a gross understatement,” City Engineer Jim Ring said during the meeting.
After reviewing a cost estimate that suggested a new bathhouse could cost as much as $303,000 and a survey suggesting the pool drew an average of about 15 swimmers a day, members of a City Council committee recommended nearly two years ago that the pool be closed.
The recommendation sparked the Save Dakin Pool movement. After learning of the pool’s planned closure, residents of the city’s east side teamed up to lobby the council, offering to take the bathhouse on as a community volunteer project.
Among residents’ arguments for keeping Dakin open were that the small pool near Broadway Park was a quieter, calmer alternative to the city’s new pool, the Beth Pancoe Municipal Aquatic Center, which drew a daily average of more than 400 swimmers after it opened last summer on the west side.
Dakin Pool also is within walking and biking distance for youth in the neighborhood surrounding it, residents noted.
They also thought the cost estimate for replacing the bathhouse was out of line and could be sharply reduced with the help of volunteers and donations.
Residents’ willingness to pitch in to keep the pool open convinced councilors to give Dakin Pool a reprieve.
Shortly afterward, the nonprofit group Friends of Dakin Pool was formed to raise money and enlist other support for the pool.
The renovated pool is expected to be open next summer.