For the first time since 2015, Winooski residents will have a city-run option to beat the summer heat.
The Myers Memorial Pool is expected to reopen on June 6, years after the Winooski city government closed the pool because of declining conditions and expensive upkeep.
The renovated pool was slated to open last summer, but Vermont’s stay-at-home order in March delayed construction.
“I’m definitely going to be very happy to see that first cannonball launched into the pool, because it’s been a long road,” said Ray Coffey, Winooski’s community services director.
The pool, constructed in 1972, was named after Kenneth R. Myers, who’d been a member of the Winooski City Council and spent years doing community service and volunteering.
Coffey said the pool was “on its last legs” when he came to Winooski nine years ago.
The “public works team was doing some wizardry to just keep it open year over year” and trying to stretch the pool’s lifespan, Coffey said. Eventually, maintenance became too difficult — the city couldn’t get replacement parts for the water filtration system, for example — and the pool was closed after the 2015 season.
The Winooski City Council formed a committee to explore options for the facility’s future and take feedback from the community.
Residents said the old competition pool didn’t work for everyone. With depths ranging from 6 to 8 feet, there wasn’t an easy way for new or non-swimmers to get comfortable with the water.
That led the city to create two separate pools. The first is competition-style, with six lanes and depths ranging from 4 feet to 8 feet. The second has a sloped entrance on one end, which is designed to accommodate swimmers of all levels of comfort and mobility. It also boasts another community priority: a 16-foot water slide.
“We just wanted to create yet another opportunity, in particular for Winooski kids, that’s kind of close to home and gives them a chance to swim safely,” Coffey said.
The project cost about $3.7 million, Coffey said, with most of the money coming from a bond passed in August 2018. The Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation also awarded $149,000 through the Land and Water Conservation fund, Coffey said, and the Myers Pool Foundation contributed $300,000.
Operating the facility will also be a community effort. The Greater Burlington YMCA has partnered with Winooski to provide lifeguard services and swimming lessons, and the city has contracted with a local vendor, Little City Creemee, to run the snack bar.
Little City Creemee, which is going through a name-change, is a BIPOC- and woman-owned business founded by Aisha Bassett in December 2019. It specializes in plant-based, dairy- and egg-free ice cream.
The snack bar will have two windows, one facing the pool and the other facing the public, and Bassett said she looks forward to her business’s first proper summer of operation.
“I’m really excited to ‘turn live’ as I like to call it, instead of being behind the scenes,” Bassett said. “It’s definitely our first year being able to interact with our consumers, and develop that relationship face to face.”
Coffey said sales of season passes have been growing slowly, after a surge when they went live in February.
“This took us a little longer than perhaps the community was excited about,” Coffey said of the renovated pool, “but I think at the end of the day it got us a really great facility, something people here are going to enjoy for 40, 50 years into the future,”
Want to stay on top of the latest business news? Sign up here to get a weekly email on all of VTDigger's reporting on local companies and economic trends. And check out our new Business section here.