Jul 10, 2023

Swim lessons expand while Dot, Mattapan pools remain closed

The summer swimming season is winding down, and the city earlier this month expanded its Swim Safe Boston programming, but city-owned pools in Dorchester and Mattapan remain closed and are unlikely to open before fall.

According to a City Hall maintenance and safety survey of all municipal-owned pools published last week, a litany of problems affect the six city pools here, ranging from safety issues to critical leaks to general filtration and cleaning problems.

The Reporter recently noted that despite a focus on summer swimming lessons for kids from Mayor Wu’s administration, all six pools were closed for the summer with no detailed explanation. Wu told the Boston Municipal Research Bureau (BMRB) in March that two of those pools – the Perkins Community Center pool in Dorchester, and the Mattahunt Community Center pool in Mattapan – would reopen this summer. The Hennigan pool in Jamaica Plain was also marked for a reopening, but it is the only one to do so.

In the maintenance and repair survey published last week, the Perkins appears to have numerous problems that would prevent it from opening anytime soon. Those issues include extreme heat and HVAC issues in the pool area that would need a larger capital budget to rectify.

The Mayor’s Office gave no explanation as to why the pool was promised to be re-opened by the mayor but was not.

“BCYF Perkins was closed previously due to lifeguard staffing shortages,” its statement said. “The city has since hired more lifeguards this summer, but Perkins is now closed because of maintenance issues with the pool. The pool is losing water, many showers are not operational, and the backwash drain is too slow. These issues are actively being worked on. The City will keep community members informed as a reopening timeline solidifies.”

At the Mattahunt, the city’s survey indicated they were waiting on toxicology reports from the pool, and that there was groundwater penetration there. While the community center is undergoing a capital budget project for renovations, the pool was not included in that assessment; it was drained as part of the work, but not fixed.

The Mayor’s Office said the Mattahunt pool is “expected to be operational for fall.”

The Marshall Community Center pool, and the Leahy-Holloran (Murphy) Community Center pool were also slated to re-open for the fall, according to survey. The city told the Reporter last month that those pools were closed due to maintenance projects in the schools associated with those pools. The Mayor’s Office said this week that once those repairs to the school were completed, those two pools would re-open.“The current plan is for the Leahy, Marshall, and Mattahunt pools to be back open this fall contingent on construction schedules,” the statement said.

But other pools, like the long-shuttered Holland Community Center pool and the recently closed Mildred Avenue Community Center pool, don’t appear to have any splashing time in sight.

The survey detailed that the Holland pool cannot be filled until the “anchor” is reinstalled or the “hole is patched.” A liner replacement is needed, as are new filter tanks.

“Due to the amount of work a capital project will be needed for these repairs in full,” read the survey.

The Mildred Avenue pool has a sewage issue in the building that is affecting the pool, the Mayor’s Office said while indicating it is “acting with urgency” to renovate several of the city-owned pools, which it said were built in the 1970s and not adequately maintained.

“Mayor Wu has made an unprecedented commitment to aquatics programming by commissioning a first-ever citywide evaluation of aquatics infrastructure with the goal of expediting the improvements needed to get city pools back open,” read a statement from Wu’s Office. “In addition to the assessment, this fiscal year Mayor Wu allocated $34.3 million in the FY24-FY28 capital plan for repairing and renovating the city’s pools.”

At the same time, the city announced that it was expanding the summer swimming lessons program into the fall by offering grants of up to $150,000 to non-profit organizations that would provide free aquatics programming to residents. The grant applications are due by Sept. 15.

“While all city-owned pools in Mattapan and Dorchester are closed this summer, the City is working with partner sites such as the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA to offer free swim lessons through the Swim Safe initiative,” said the statement from the Mayor’s Office. “These partner organizations have pool locations around the City, including Dorchester. Additionally, DCR and the City of Boston’s splash pads provide opportunities city-wide to cool off.”

A press release about that program also quotes a mother of twin boys who have enjoyed free swimming lessons at the Hennigan pool in JP this summer. There were no swimming lesson programs offered to kids in Dorchester and Mattapan at city-owned pools this summer, as all were closed.The Paris Street pool in East Boston opened earlier this summer after a $10.2 million investment over three months to make it usable.

What, exactly, is wrong with the city’s pools?

Below is a detailed list published by the City of Boston online last week in a spreadsheet format.

Holland Community Center Pool – Geneva Avenue, Dorchester•Filter tanks need to be replaced.•Cannot fill pool until anchor is reinstalled or hole is patched.•Liner replacement needed.•Handicap shower seat in women’s shower needs to be replaced.•Due to the amount of work a capital project will be needed for these repairs in full.

Leahy-Holloran Community Center Pool – Worrell Street, Dorchester•Pool tiles need replacing. Pool must be emptied to repair.•Gutter covers are worn, and some are damaged.•Loose paint - ceiling paint over shallow and deep end of pool deck.•All lane line anchors need to be replaced.•Ceiling tile missing.•One of the two pool filters has rust spots.•Safety Issue: In pool wall light fixture needs to be securely reinstalled.•Safety Issue: Gutter missing safety line anchor. This is a hole where pool toys and other things enter filtration system.

Mattahunt Community Center Pool– Hebron Street, Mattapan•Community Center Capital Project. Pool was drained but not part of Capital project.•Waiting on toxicology report to be analyzed.•Ground water penetration found that will need assessment and pump work is in progress.

Marshall Community Center Pool – Westville Street, Dorchester•Capital Project - awaiting for some FFE items. Planning to open for Fall 2023.•Two projects taking place in the school building that left this pool offline for the summer.•Safety Issue: Pool deck cleaning of ventilation system debris.•Women’s locker room and office too hot.Mildred Avenue Community Center Pool– Mildred Avenue, Mattapan•Missing tiles in pool shell - slope area.•Handicap shower seat needs to be replaced.•Slow drains in women’s room, damaged drain tiles in family room•Filters installed in 2003 are nearing 25-year life expectancy. Locker room drain work to take place week ending 8/18/23.•Deck rust stains.•Window frames and door rust.•Safety Issue: Remove bench bolts in women’s locker room floor.•Secure drain clean out cover in women’s bathroom.

Perkins Community Center Pool– Talbot Avenue, Dorchester•Pool deck and stairwell cleaning.•Backwash drain not adequate. Drain cleaning needed.•Multiple shower heads missing in both locker rooms.•Missing soap dispensers in girls showers.•Wire baskets for sprinkler system hanging, needs securing.•Filter sand was noted by inspector when pool was filled in June 2022.•Backwash, water backs up in filter room - in the works for 8/10/23.•Heat detectors covers, cage hanging off ceiling.•Pool empty for caulking and cleaning.•ISD inspection June 15 and reinspection on August 15.•Pool area gets too hot at times. HVAC improvements needed. Work here will need capital investment.•Safety Issue: Chlorinator not operational - outlet not working. Electrician has to coordinate to meet onsite with technologist from Fillion Associates to discuss issues.•Safety Issue: Weld bend at stairwell railing that was installed this year (2023)•Extreme heat issues in pool area at times.

What, exactly, is wrong with the city’s pools? Holland Community Center Pool Leahy-Holloran Community Center PoolMattahunt Community Center PoolMarshall Community Center PoolMildred Avenue Community Center PoolPerkins Community Center Pool