School committee members took a tour of the community pool at Sandwich High School Wednesday night to get a firsthand look at proposed renovations to the pool locker rooms.
For more than a year, the school committee has been grappling with a permanent solution to making the locker room area accessible during the day to both high school students and adults who take part in Sandwich Community School pool offerings.
Community school Director Lance D. Kennedy guided committee members on a walk-through of the pool and the men’s and women’s locker rooms, pointing out the changes that will make both available once again to everyone.
“I think this is such a feasible thing, and it’s actually relatively cheap money,” committee member Marie A. Kangas said near the end of the tour.
In March of last year, then-Superintendent Mary Ellen Johnson decided to close the pool during daytime hours after a parent complained about adults sharing locker rooms with students during the school day.
A task force was formed shortly afterward to look at options that would allow the daytime swimming programs while keeping students and members of the community separated.
The task force recommended that the doors leading in and out of the locker rooms from the pool area be double-locked during school hours, allowing no entrance or exit. Six cabanas were built on the pool deck, three on either side of the diving board. The cabanas serve as changing rooms for the public. A single showerhead, already in place, has been available for adults to use to rinse before and after swimming.
Wednesday night, Mr. Kennedy walked the committee through schematic plans for reconfiguring the locker rooms to allow daytime access to the pool while separating the adults from the students. The changes in the proposed plan, he said, will curtail any interaction inside the locker rooms between adults who take part in the Community School’s adult swim programs and Sandwich High students.
In the women’s locker room, a new adult changing room will be created by building a 20-foot wall to completely section off the girls’ locker room. Mr. Kennedy explained that the steel-studded drywall partition will be built close against the end of a row of lockers. He pointed out that the wall will be built where another wall had previously stood. The new changing room for adults will house six individual areas, separated by “hotel-style” curved shower rods and spacious enough to fit a chair and allow someone to move around inside.
The new changing room will have two doors that open into the hallway leading to the pool area. A door at the end of the changing room closest to the pool leads to a shower room. In the shower room will be four stalls, all with new privacy curtains and rods.
The men will also have their own new changing and showering area. A locked metal door will separate the men’s area from the boys’ locker room. Inside, the men’s showering area will be separated from the boys’ showers by a divider wall. Mr. Kennedy said that the wooden cabanas that have been built on the pool deck will stay in place because they have proven valuable to parents of opposite-sex children who need a place to change their child.
Mr. Kennedy told the committee members that Alan Hall, the facilities director for Sandwich schools has estimated that the renovations will cost about $7,500. It will be “$2,500 for all the construction materials and $2,500 apiece for the two double-lock doors,” Mr. Kennedy explained. Superintendent C. Richard Canfield also mentioned that there is $50,000 in the town’s capital budget “having nothing to do with this pool talk,” that is earmarked for replacing the gym and pool lockers, which he described as being in “horrid condition.”
However, replacing the lockers will not be of any benefit to Community School patrons. The renovations result in sectioning off adults from any area housing lockers. Mr. Kennedy explained that the plan is to accommodate adults by creating “some sort of storage space.” “If it’s a locker, if it’s cubicles, there’ll be something for them to store their things in,” he said.
The next step is for Mr. Kennedy to go before the school committee for a second time to answer any questions or concerns they may have about the project. Some of the unanswered questions include who would do the construction and how long it would take to complete. No date has been scheduled yet for Mr. Kennedy to meet with the committee again. Mr. Kennedy said that once the project gets the committee’s approval, he will move forward with plans for fundraising.