The Cornelia Warren Outdoor Pool in Westbrook has been closed since 2020. Chance Viles / American Journal

The city is looking at three sites for a new Cornelia Warren Outdoor Pool and the early favorite appears to be at the Westbrook Community Center.

The pool in the park at 489 Main St. closed in 2020 because of the pandemic but remains off limits because of serious disrepair that makes swimming there unsafe. Repair costs for the pool and a new bathhouse were estimated earlier this year at $1.8 million, exceeding the expected costs by roughly $1 million.

The city last year floated the idea of removing the pool and replacing it with a splash pad, but resident outcry at public meetings put the city in pursuit of pool funding, which they are still working on.

The potential sites are city-owned land on Foster Street off Main Street near the river; next to the Westbrook Community Center on Bridge Street; and the current location at the Warren outdoor recreation area, according to City Project Manager Robyn Saunders.

The current location isn’t ideal, Saunders said. The sloped ground caused the pool to crack and resulted in the unsafe conditions. It also has poor visibility.

It’s too early to tell how much it would cost to build a pool at each location because designs and estimates are still being worked on, Saunders said. Each potential site has flat land that is suitable for the project and each is accessible, she said, but the using the Community Center’s existing utilities and pool house poses the potential for greater savings.

Community Center Director Greg Post likes the idea of having an outdoor pool on site, as does Mayor Mike Foley. In bad weather, swimmers could move over to the indoor pool and “won’t have to clear out,” Foley said at the meeting.

“It does seem like an oxymoron to have pools in the same place, but from other standpoints it’s positive,” Mayor Mike Foley said at a July 12 City Council meeting.

Post said his pool staff is usually split during summer months between the indoor and outdoor pools.

Council President Gary Rairdon said of the three locations, the Community Center is best in terms of supervision.

“Someone is always at the indoor facility. In the offseason, our (outdoor) pool gets vandalized where our community center has a lot of activity,” Rairdon said, adding that because the outdoor pool would be used during the summer, pool guests could use the Congin School parking lot next door.

Down on Foster Street, the location could withstand a pool there, but it’s not ideal,” he said. 

Residents who spoke with the American Journal overall supported a potential location change.

Gorham resident and former Warren pool lifeguard Emily Figucia said she often saw fights and drug deals at the current location, because it is  not easily visible.  Having the outdoor pool at the Community Center would be easier on staff and more resident-friendly, she said.

“If it were located at the Community Center it could be a great place for the school’s field trips, birthdays and other things just like the indoor pool,” Figucia said.

Beth Calloway of Westbrook has taken her two sons to the outdoor pool in the past and would support either the Foster Street or Community Center location, she said.

“I think Foster Street would be more accessible to pedestrians, whereas the Community Center would offer more parking, privacy and security,” she said.

Resident Heather Morris said she grew up going to the pool at the Warren recreation area, she’s all for a new location if it helps get the work done.

“I have many wonderful memories of the outdoor pool. My girls both learned to dive at the outdoor pool, and we spent many hot afternoons there meeting up with family and friends,” Morris said. “Maybe having the pool at the Community Center would make it easier to manage the maintenance and pool staff if it was at the same location, which would be a benefit.”

The city is now looking to get designs and hard numbers for the three plans for better comparisons.

“We will definitely have more information come August on hard costs and locations,” Saunders told the American Journal.

Post said there are no plans to fix the current location while work is done on a new pool. He estimates Westbrook may be without an outdoor pool for nearly two more years.

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