CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins is moving forward with his proposal to replace Budlong Community Pool with a more modern downsized version.
The mayor announced Tuesday that his administration is taking bids for an 8,000 square-foot pool and adjacent bathhouse, which would replace the existing facility that’s become a point of heated debate in recent months.
“I have listened to public comments over many months, suggestions by city council members, expert opinions by leading pool designers,” Hopkins said in a statement. “I have determined that the depression-era [pool] built 22,000 square feet [sic] has well seen its last day.”
Debate between the mayor’s office and city council over what a new pool complex should look like has played out publicly throughout the year, as the pool remained closed during the summer months. Last month, the council voted on a resolution, urging the mayor to amend his $3.5 million proposal to include a pool that is no smaller than 11,000 square feet — far larger than what the mayor is seeking.
Residents also expressed frustration with the lack of transparency in the process during several well-attended council meetings, along with a public forum held on Sept. 6. At the time, a petition signed by 2,000 residents, who wanted only to repair the old pool, was submitted to the mayor.
Hopkins said he welcomed the public process and did make updates to the pool concept — including increasing the size of the pool from 7,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. The mayor said he also took into account other considerations, including room for lap swimming.
“When completed, we will have a new, safe pool complex that is ADA accessible, compliant with all health and building codes,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said organizations interested in submitting proposals can also include plans for a splash pad, but the additional amenity will only be considered if there’s enough funding.
City Council President Jessica Marino did not immediately respond to a request for comment.