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By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Rosemary Pool is a staple in the Needham summer experience. Even those without pool passes were taken along by friends and experienced the relief of a body of water during the unrelenting summer heat.
For the past couple years, the Park and Recreation Department has been working towards a renovation of this space to transform what is primarily a pool, used a limited number of months throughout the year, into a year-round facility, meeting a variety of needs in the community. At the most recent Needham Town Meeting, construction funds were approved for the Rosemary Recreation Complex Project, which will hopefully be completed by the summer of 2018.
“We already put the project out to bid, and had a favorable bid, more than $1 million under the estimate,” Patricia Carey, Director of Park and Recreation, said. “Now, we’ll work on signing all the contract documents and get the needed construction permits through the Building Department, and then construction can begin within a few weeks, if all goes to schedule.”
The biggest concern and misconception about the project is that it would only benefit the community for a few short months. However, Matt Toolan, Park and Recreation Commission Chair, made it very clear this is not the case. “We’re adding community space that will allow for us, Park and Rec, to run several hundred more programs,” he explained. “We will also address needs within the community for access to additional community space, most notably for clubs and organizations that struggle to find a meeting space.”
Planning for this complex has been ongoing since 2014, when a feasibility study was completed. The new facility would offer community space accessible to anyone in need. In addition, it does update the pool, resulting in two pools to meet the needs of the entire community. “One of the key design elements is that we will not have to drain the pond to clean the pool anymore. The other thing we’re doing is adopting best practices—some may think this is extravagant but actually it’s a municipal pool practice—but because we have such a large area we’re actually creating two pools to address different needs,” Toolan elaborated. “We’ll have competitive pool, with eight lanes, something for people to swim their laps, and then we’ll have the recreational pool. They’ll have slides, it will have all sorts of water features, there will be walking lanes for water walkers.”
Unfortunately, the pool will not be open this summer, however, Toolan added that Park and Recreation is working with neighboring towns to acquire residential rates for their pools. “The building itself is really going to be a huge enhancement for the community. We’re going to be able to provide programming for almost a thousand more participants than we currently do,” he said.
“This programming space is really the hidden gem within this project, and really will add a ton of value to the community.”