Thursday, May 19, 2011

No pool for you!

War Memorial Pool, at ease

File this one under "Hell hath no fury..."

Town Meeting's voice ignored

Town Meeting voted decisively to appropriate funds to open War Memorial Pool this summer. This of course surprised the Town Manager and 4/5 of the Select Board, who hadn't realized what a priority this community resource is for our town. Selectwoman O'Keefe promised that she "heard" us and Mr. Musante agreed. But alas, no can do. The paint hasn't been ordered. The bathhouse can't be fixed until July. They're sure they can't find lifeguards at this late date. Is this really so impossible? Really?

I think the message is clear. For our unelected official, Mr. Musante, the pool is not a priority. He's Linda Chalfant's boss and has made it clear to her that the pool won't open this summer. He wants to put the money towards the huge undertaking of total rehab of the pool and community fields, which was also never his priority. The LSSE Commission of course echoed Mr. Musante. After all, LSSE Commission is appointed by the Town Manager.

Where is the voice of the people of Amherst? It was supposed to be Town Meeting, but no one in Town Hall is listening or cares....even when there was a clear vote to open the pool. TM is just supposed to come in for hours, read all the material, participate eagerly and then rubber stamp the priorities of our unelected officials. When we do vote to do things differently, we are ignored.

There were no children represented at any of Mr. Musante's meetings. TM bravely voted for the kids and all the other people who so appreciate the pool and the community it brings. I'm disappointed in the process. It doesn't work. For those of you lucky enough, look forward to your vacations in Maine, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Try not to think about the kids you're leaving behind.

Julia Rueschemeyer, Precinct 9

Deja Vu all over again


Anonymous said...

The discussion on the town meeting listserve is a lot more nuanced than "No pool for you." Stephanie O'Keeffe, who Larry likes to deride as "Princess," is explaining, for those who weren't paying attention, that the repairs probably can't be accomplished for this summer.

A pool is not like a light bulb or even a kitchen renovation. The complexity and health/safety considerations are considerably greater. Good for TM for expressing its will, but bad on those who say a delay is a whitewash.

LarryK4 said...

Not a term of derision in the least; her rise to power was nothing short of a Fairly Tale come true.

The pool should not have been closed in the first place. Thus, you reap what you sow.

Anonymous said...

"TM bravely voted"

Oh come on. "Bravely"? What is brave about anything the town meeting votes on?

And is this the same bravery we use to describe soldiers going into battle, people standing up to abuse, terminally ill people facing their lives with optimism?

Me thinks not.

Hyperbole overflows your writing.

Tone it down.

After all, this is a swimming pool.

Anonymous said...

What is Town Meeting but one fait accompli after the next to be rubber-stamped (or not) by the assembly? Before that, we get a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. But what does a Town Meeting majority vote signify? Apparently, also nothing.

And we wonder why we can't get enough people to run?

Anonymous said...

It makes sense that it can't reopen it this year--needed repairs are too expensive and time-consuming. What makes no sense is that it closed in the first place. That was a short-sighted decision. Repairs will be more costly as a result of its closing.

Anonymous said...

No need to head for the Cape and Islands - come take a dip with the Select Board in Gull Pond and Hop Brook, out East Woods way.

"Wade in the Water,
Wade in the Water, Chillun'
Wade! in the Water;
God's A-Gonna Trouble - The Wa-ter!"

Anonymous said...

Where's Gull Pond?

Anonymous said...

Aw, come on, Larry -- you know that pool can't be repaired up to snuff in time. And, as Chalfant said, how to get trained staff on short notice?

It was awful when the pool was closed, but let's fix it correctly and beef up the staff. Does anyone else remember the near-drowning of the 4 year old? I love that pool (and used to be one of the few who called it the WAR Memorial Pool), but we cannot risk a half-a$$ed repair job which would endanger people.

And I'm one of those year round people who cannot afford to go elsewhere for the summer. I guess we'll have to make do with that pool in North Amherst.

LarryK4 said...

Oh, I think if somebody's job depended on it the pool could be fixed in time. All depends on your motivation.

Ten years ago when Building Inspector Bill Start risked his job by condemning the Cherry Hill Golf Course clubhouse in the fall the town fell all over itself to build a new half assed one pretty quickly.

LarryK4 said...

Gull Pond is off Old Farm Road within spitting distance of the old landfill.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of summer swimming options or lack thereof, what ever happened to last year's recommendations by the Puffers Pond study committee, including the recommendation to implement parking fees in order to raise more funds to take care of the pond. I haven't heard anything more about that report and changes in months, and am hoping no changes including those parking fees have been decided upon.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah the town certainly already makes enough on parking fees--especially tickets.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha -- I'm off to pay my $10 parking ticket. I forgot I had parked there. Chalk one up for geezer stupidity!

Anonymous said...

Power elites who pay no attention to the will of the Amherst has something in common with Washington, D.C.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:20 (5/19)

Why should it be so hard to find staff? I thought there was high unemployment....

As for drownings, try taking your kids to Puffers where there are no life guards and the water is deep and murky...the only place I know of in Amherst where anyone has drown in the past 10 years.

Ed said...

You know, if the town didn't openly *hate* all UMass students, you might find a dozen or so who have still-valid lifeguard certifications (from high school) who would be willing to do it out of a sense of pride of being asked and in being treated both like an adult and a valued member of the community.

Lifeguard certificates are valid for three years and a lot of kids have them from high school -- I went to college with a valid one and I really doubt that I am the only person who did.

Now this would have to reflect upon the Town of Amherst recognizing UMass students as human beings -- worse, having to ask the students to please do something nice for you. But if you could, in this economy, there are UM students who would take a full-day job with you over a few hours at WalMart -- and some of these kids have experience on ocean beaches out on the Cape and such -- so what if they were 15 years old at the time, they learned a whole lot more than anyone will ever need to know dealing with a pool...

Larry, there are lifeguards out there, the problem is that they are UMass Students....

Ed said...

Gull Pond is off Old Farm Road within spitting distance of the old landfill.

If it is *that* close, I would worry about stuff leaching out of said landfill -- has anyone tested the water for, say, heavy metals and organic hydrocarbons? This was an UNLINED landfill in a farming and college town -- and likely burnt every weekend (heat making some of the stuff even more dangerous).

And Gull Pond is the water that is coming FROM the landfill (is it Larry?) --- well let's go down the alphabet:

Arsenic (pesticide), Benzine, Carbon Tetrachloride (widely used degreaser), all kinds of nasty stuff beginning with "D", none of which I can spell, etc, etc, etc...

Maybe someone might want to do a test on that water before we let people swim in it?!?!?

LarryK4 said...

Gull Pond was there before the old landfill (probably used--like Puffers Pond--for ice harvesting) so no, it was not created by leachate oozing out of the unlined landfill.

I actually tested the water there about 15 years ago when I first stumbled across this story (one of these days I will do a long form article about it) and it came back so high in sulfuric acid that then DPW chief Noel Ryan said it HAD to be a mistake because levels that high would have "burned the asses off the ducks swimming in the pond."

I had used Omar Awad (yes, Anne Awads former husband) and apparently his home lab was not exactly spic and span.

Noel had Tighe and Bond retest and the results were dramatically different.

The town has routinely tested Gull Pond for over 20 years now.

Yes, some bad stuff does show up in low concentrations but nobody swims in Gull Pond anyway as the water does not look very inviting.

The Anon who talked about swimming there was being sarcastic (as I keep saying, sarcasm requires a special font)

Anonymous said...

Go Rueschemeyer! I have yet to see any paid town or school administrator quickly implement any idea that comes from the school committee or town meeting. I guess they don't "own it."

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ed, a pond next to an unlined landfill and nobody thought to test the water until you.