CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Cranston swimmers will have to find a new place to take a dip this summer.
Budlong Pool will remain closed, Mayor Ken Hopkins’ chief of staff confirmed to 12 News on Wednesday.
City Councilor Aniece Germain, who represents the ward where the public pool is located, said no funding was allocated for it in the city budget.
“Maybe Mayor Hopkins has an alternative that he doesn’t share with us, but from what I was told at the last council meeting, there is no plan to reopen it this summer,” Germain said in an email to 12 News.
The pool was built in the 1950s and is one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the country.
According to a city-commissioned study on its condition, the pool would need some work to bring it back to its former glory. The facility is “facing several performance issues that are severe enough for the City to consider the pool is close to the end of its serviceable life,” the 2022 report said.
The news of the closure comes amid citywide efforts to decrease spending. Hopkins released a statement Wednesday saying the city is moving to make cuts to “meet budget challenges resulting from the pandemic and structural cost increases.”
Hopkins directed city departments to implement $1.1 million in cuts and asked employee bargaining groups to cooperate.
“We need help from our unions or else we will need to make difficult choices on personnel,” he added.
The mayor’s office said the city will be issuing a hiring freeze, minimizing overtime, deferring expenditures and purchasing except for essential services, banning out-of-state travel paid with tax dollars, and reviewing city-paid cell phones and pagers, with a goal of minimizing the impact on public services and personnel.
Hopkins also asked the School Committee to look at the district’s budget and attempt to make cuts and reductions.
The budget-drafting process sparked controversy last month. The City Council rejected an amended version of Hopkins’s budget for the next fiscal year, but an item in the city charter states that when an amended version of a budget is voted down, the original version automatically passes.
The amended budget included roughly $19 million more in spending compared to last year’s budget. Hopkins argued the increase was a necessary evil.
“Unfortunately, the cost of government and running the city, just like anybody’s house, is going up probably 8% to 8.5%,” he said in May. “The city has bills that have to be paid, that we’re obligated to pay them.”
Councilmembers from both parties opposed to the budget proposal. The Cranston Democratic Caucus said it “jeopardizes the financial stability of the city.”