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East Providence High pool closing may get a reprieve

By   /   June 25, 2013  /   Be the first to comment

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though it remains an outside shot of happening, there’s a chance the pool at East Providence High School may not be closed after all.

By a unanimous 5-0 vote at one of its recent meetings and reaffirmed during a discussion of facilities at last week’s City Council session, the East Providence School Committee agreed to close the forlorn facility at the end of the 2012-13 term, which is Thursday, June 27.

The School Committee acted after having received a report from the School Department’s architectural firm, Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA), which following a walk-through of the facility deemed it in need of some $3.7 million in renovations.

That number represents what it would take to bring the entire pool area, including the building structure, locker rooms, seating, etc., up to modern standards.

Having heard of the facility’s plight, a Providence-based pool specialist company early last week offered to render its own diagnosis of the situation.

The firm, which reached out to Schools Superintendent Kim Mercer on June 17,  is expected to conduct a thorough review of the EPHS pool throughout the day on Wednesday, June 26, at no cost to the city. The company, which is expected to be on site for some 8 to 10 hours, has hired its own engineers to inspect the pool. And if it is found to be structurally sound, the doors of the facility could stay opened beyond this current school term.

The firm’s initial inspection last week, albeit a superficial walk-through, found the overall building structure and the deck area of the pool to be serviceable. The question remains if the actual interior of the pool is repairable. If it is, the likely amount to fix just that aspect, according to the company, has been estimated to be in the neighborhood of between $400,000 and 600,000, a far cry from the near $4 million noted by SMMA.

School Committee members contacted by The Post and eastbayri.com have signaled their willingness to work with the Providence company if the numbers jibe. Not only would the firm fix the pool, it would be hired to run the facility in a cooperative relationship with the School Department. The outside firm would staff the pool, maintain it and set the schedule of events at the facility around use by the high school students and swim teams, while sharing in the profits with the city.

Without a pool, the EPHS swim program as well as other youth and adult clubs in the city and surrounding communities would be displaced or could possibly be ended.

If the EPHS programs were to continue without the pool, they would likely have to use either the Boys & Girls Club facility in city or possibly one of the facilities at either the Newman YMCA in Seekonk or the Bay Side Y in Barrington, both of which have several members from East Providence.

More school notes

The School Department is in the process of receiving a donation of upwards of $80,000 from Eaton Aerospace, a defense contractor which is moving to the city. Some of the money will be used to install a new playground at the Meadowcrest School, where students from the closed Oldham School will be moved starting in the fall. The rest of the money will be used to make alterations to the ceiling of the Meadowcrest cafeteria, which doubles as a gymnasium.

The School Committee conducts a special meeting Friday night, June 28, in the City Hall Chamber. Among the items expected to be on the docket are teacher call-backs for the fall, recognition of the state champion EPHS boys’ outdoor track and field team, a discussion on the next phase of the Life Safety Bond project for buildings and the accreditation of the high school.

In addition, if approved as expected by the East Providence Budget Commission this week, a new Director of Pupil Personnel Services, a position that oversees the School Department’s Special Education division, could be presented to the School Committee by Superintendent Mercer.

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