Sunday, May 16, 2021

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East Haven Pool Closed Due to Threat Building Poses to Occupants

The town pool, located at 200 Tyler Street in the Old East Haven High School building, is closed until further notice due to unsafe conditions at the facility, according to the East Shore District Health Department and town officials.

Mayor Joseph Carfora issued a Jan. 6 statement in which he called the facility’s condition unacceptable. Director of Health Michael Pascucilla, who toured the building at the request of Carfora on Jan. 6, said the closure was “precautionary.”

“We wanted to be proactive rather than reactive…We support the mayor’s decision and commend him,” said Pascucilla.

Contributing factors leading to the closure include a non-functioning pool heating system, no hot running water in the locker rooms, and rusting stainless steel posts, among other items listed in a report from the health department.

“Because the heating systems are not working, there is a condensation scenario where the cold walls were covered with water and dripping on to the floor,” said Pascucilla. “Not only is it an environment for mold and mildew, but a safety hazard with potential for slips and falls.”

In its inspection, the health department determined that the water quality and “the pool itself was safe; however, when you look at the rest of the other components, you look at it as one full unit…[it] just was not an ideal environment,” said Pascucilla.

In addition to the health department, the East Haven fire marshal’s office found several fire code violations at the site while an official from the town’s building department reported electrical problems.

These issues include “two rooms with electrical equipment hav[ing] standing water on the floor, also humidity levels are so high that water is dripping from the ceiling,” wrote James Bassett, building official for East Haven, in a Jan. 6 memorandum to Carfora.

In an email exchange with the Courier on Jan. 9, Carfora wrote that with “numerous concerning violations at the pool…to allow its continued use would be irresponsible.”

“There is no question that there has been a Band-Aid approach to maintenance on this facility for many years. This is not a decision that I take lightly, but one that is unquestionably necessary to protect everyone,” he added.

The pool, installed in 1972, has gone through several upgrades and modifications since that time, notably to its heating system.

“For the last few years, we’ve been requesting a mechanical system to be switched out and a dehumidification system to take care of the moisture in the building and because of the fact that these two items were [a] substantial [cost], they never got funded,” said East Haven Director of Recreation Louis Pane.

“If you don’t take care of what you have, then you’re going to have problems down the line and that is exactly what happened here,” he added.

The pool has served about 50 to 70 individuals on a weekly basis with swimming classes, youth programs, and birthday parties.

Pane, who compared the condition of the pool with the town’s ice rink, which he says was installed at the same time as the pool and is in better working order, said, “Why did that happen to the pool? Those requests were in there for the last 15 years. I hate to point fingers at anybody, [but] it’s a lack of duty on someone’s part to say that when you have a problem, you don’t take care of it. You have to be reasonable and do your due diligence to make sure the proper repairs are done.”

Negotiations are currently underway with the town of North Haven to accommodate East Haven residents at the town’s Walter J. Gawrych Community Pool on Linsley Street, according to Pane.

The Town of East Haven is also exploring state and federal grant opportunities “to hopefully at some point, resurrect the pool or maybe build a new pool,” said Pane.

In spite of his agreement with the mayor’s decision and providing input to the mayor that it was the best course of action, Pane said, “It’s a sad day to see the pool being closed. As a recreation department, even if it affects just one person…that is too many.”

In a Jan. 6 written statement, Mayor Carfora wrote that “the circumstances that I witnessed are unacceptable,” and that the pool facility’s condition required “immediate” action.

His assessment of the town-owned pool was a part of his overall evaluation of “town finances, legal matters, town buildings, public works equipment, and athletic fields,” since he took office in November, he wrote.

Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email at .

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