Pool Set to Open Without Delay

By Jayna Smith

A vital asset to any community is its recreation department.  With programs offered throughout the year to people of all ages, the Calais Recreation Department is no exception.  One major attraction offered through the department is the pool, and with summer approaching, many are wondering its status after last year’s notorious leak.  Director Toby Cole recently reported that the Howard Fox Memorial Pool should open on schedule this year, set to open the last week of school.

With the leak discovered just before opening last year, Cole explained, “We drained the pool down until it no longer was leaking and repatched many cracks in the asphalt.  Once we filled it back up, it slowed the leak down, and by the end of summer, it was no longer leaking any water.”  Before its opening this year, the pool will once again be patched to ensure no leaking, followed by the entire pool area receiving a fresh coat of paint. 

Cole received an estimate last year to completely repair and make necessary upgrades to the pool, and at $100,000, that work will not all be completed at once.  “Those improvements do not need to be made in order for the pool to be functional,” Cole said.  “We have been given a prioritized list of improvements that would need to be made over time.  We are going to continue our fundraising projects through the St. Croix Recreation Association, as well as continue searching for grants and other funding options.”  The pool reportedly was built in the 1950s with a complete renovation done twenty-five years ago in 1989.

A pool director along with five lifeguards will be employed at the pool through the recreation department this season.  Those wages make up about half of the pool’s operating cost of $26,000.  The other half, Cole said, is spent on water, electricity, and paint and materials to prepare the pool for use, along with approximately $6,000 spent on the necessary chemicals to treat the pool water. 

Although $26,000 is used annually to keep the pool up and running, the Calais Recreation Department does bring in money from the various programs offered throughout the year.  With a budget from the city of $180,000, the department earns revenue of $55,000—more than double the amount it costs to run the pool. 

The pool certainly has and continues to be utilized by many in the community.  Open seven days a week from 1:00 to 4:30, many enjoy public swim at just $1 for kids and $2 for adults each day.  Pool passes for individuals and for families are also available for purchase.  Additionally, swim lessons are offered to the public and to day campers in the mornings Monday to Friday. 

Another popular program offered by the recreation department is its 9-week long summer day camp.  Averaging an attendance of 30 to 40 kids each week, the camp offers kids ages 5 to 12 the opportunity to participate in many different activities throughout the day, including pool time each afternoon, weather permitting.  With a cost of only $40 per week per child for Calais-residents, or $50 for non-residents, the camp begins at 8:00 am and runs until 3:00 Monday to Friday.  This program employs one camp director and three to four counselors.   

Cole stressed his focus as the Recreation Department Director and the importance of such a department:  “The recreation department provides activities for kids and adults to enjoy throughout the year.  People need things to do when they are not working or at school and that is what we aim to provide.  Kids and adults alike need to stay active and participate in these programs to be an active member of their community and to stay healthy.  There are many groups within the city and the reoccurring theme among all of them is how do we get people to move to Calais and stay in Calais?  To me, the answer to those questions is to provide them with good schools for their kids to be educated in and provide them recreational programs for them to participate in.” 

The Calais Recreation Department can be followed on Facebook to view schedules and updates of programs.  Questions can also be directed to Director Toby Cole by calling 454-2761.