CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Even though fall has officially begun, Cranston residents are still thinking about the future of Budlong Community Pool.
The Cranston City Council voted Monday on a resolution urging Mayor Ken Hopkins to amend his $3.5 million proposal to replace the public pool.
The pool was originally built back in the 1940s and hasn’t seen a swimmer since the pandemic. It was supposed to reopen last summer, but the city decided to keep the pool closed due to a lack of funding in the budget.
Hopkins has proposed constructing a smaller pool since it would be easier to staff and cheaper to maintain. He claims the reduced-size pool would still accommodate up to 500 swimmers at a time.
The decision stems from a feasibility study which revealed that renovating the pool wouldn’t be economically viable for the city.
“You have a pool that you can renovate to last about 10 years, or you can build and construct a new pool to last 45 years for half the price,” Hopkins’ Chief of Staff Anthony Moretti explained. “It all comes down to economics. There’s only so much money you can use.”
But residents have repeatedly expressed frustration with Hopkins’ proposal to replace the historic pool.
“I think we should all remain troubled and unsatisfied with the idea of replacing the existing pool without first getting an opinion from a disinterested expert,” Cranston resident Erin Rosenberg said, adding that the expert could “give the city a real breakdown of the repairs and costs needed to reasonably extend the life of the pool.”
“If a disinterested expert with a similar estimate, so be it,” she continued. “People will be able to accept that and move onto the discussion of building a replacement pool. But what we’re being asked to rely on doesn’t have credibility.”
The resolution, which is nonbinding, urges Hopkins to further mull whether to renovate the current pool instead of replacing it completely.
Moretti said that, while Hopkins will consider the counter proposal, the city’s goal is to make a decision soon and reopen the pool next year if at all possible.