CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A pool is one of the best places to be on hot and humid days like Rhode Island is seeing, but the Budlong Pool in Cranston still remains closed.
The public 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.
A special council city meeting was held Wednesday night to discuss the fate of the pool.
“I want a pool as much as anybody that’s sitting in this room. I want a pool!” Mayor Ken Hopkins said.
Hopkins 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 and would come with a toddler area, swimming lanes and a pavilion.
A petition was presented to Hopkins at the meeting signed by 2,000 residents who want to repair the pool rather than fix it.
“I would definitely take seriously 2,000 plus people that have signed a petition saying not to downsize the pool,” said City Councilor John Donegan. “Yeah, it might only be 2% of the city, but if you get 2,000 people to sign something, they care.”
In a report previously released by Hopkins’ office, experts uncovered numerous issues with Budlong Pool, which include a failed liner and undersized piping, pumps and filters. The filter is also reportedly discharging into a neighboring stream rather than a sanitary sewer system, according to the report.
Architects and engineers presented a proposal Wednesday night estimating the cost to repair the existing pool to be $5 million. The pool would have a 10-year lifespan.
Hopkins said a brand new pool would be around $3.5 million, with a lifespan of more than 40 years.
“I know many of you who are here tonight want to fix the old pool. If I could fix it right now and open it tomorrow, I would,” Hopkins said. “The question I have is do we use millions of dollars to make a temporary fix?”
Hopkins added that every decision he makes is based on what’s best for the city and the Budlong Pool is no different.