South Portland Parks & Rec happy to be in hot water

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SOUTH PORTLAND —  During the Sept. 18 City Council meeting, City Manager Scott Morelli jokingly referred to it as “the hot tub project that will never end.”

And with good reason. It’s been more than 15 years since the hot tub at the South Portland Community Center stopped working. The Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department has been working to replace it for the past four years.

Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, nonetheless the new therapy spa at the community center hit another snafu – but town officials say it won’t prevent the project from being completed this year.

If all goes as planned, the Community Center, at 21 Nelson Road, will soon be home to a HydroWorx eight-person, acrylic fiberglass therapeutic ThermalPlunge pool, commonly referred to as a hot tub.

The swimming pool has also been closed since the recreation center’s annual shut-down in August in anticipation of completing improvements. Work has not started on the hot tub or the pool because the city only received one bid to install the spa and make improvements to the pool area, and the bid came in around $250,000 – $100,000 over budget. The city rejected the bid, and are instead awarding bids and contracts for various parts of the job. Officials also said labor shortages in the construction field has delayed work.

Improving the pool area will include tiling the deck in the deep end and around the starting block area; moving the diving board over a few feet to make room for a sixth starting block, and improvements to the HVAC systems. The improvements will clean the air and allow the center to use chlorine in the new hot tub rather than a stronger bromine solution.

Recreation Manager and Aquatics Coordinator Patrick McArdle said he was told the projected start date for demolition work is next week, and the hot tub and all renovations should be complete by December or early January at the latest.

In June 2013, the city began soliciting donations, with a goal to raise the $100,000 needed for the new spa.

On June 19, city council unanimously approved the acquisition of the therapy hot tub from HydroWorx, of Middletown, Pennsylvania for $24,750.

The city has now hired Sebago Technics, a local engineering and land development team, to administer the project. The company is currently contracted to work with the city on the Municipal Services Project and will transition to the new hot tub project in October.

Sebago Technics had already been involved with the design and soliciting bids for the project.

The project will be broken down into smaller parts, including demolition, concrete work, electrical, mechanical, flooring, fire safety and installation. The company will solicit for each trade and the city will make a decision on subcontractors. Sebago Technics will coordinate and oversee the projects.

The city and Sebago Technics have already obtained three or more bids for the demolition and concrete phases of the project.

On Monday, city council unanimously approved awarding Gorham Sand and Gravel $41,750 for demolition work, which includes removing the existing concrete spa. Council awarded Williams Foundations of Sanford a $35,040 contract for concrete work, which includes work on the hot tub area and diving board area and concrete for the tile.

Morelli stated in a position paper to the city council that the “goal is to proceed with the messy phases of the project in October and be able to reopen the pool after their completion.”

McArdle said the community center will re-open the pool in time for weekend swimming lessons scheduled to begin Oct. 14. He also said the center has increased weekend swimming lessons, particularly preschool lessons, because the pool will be closed for lessons during the week due to the construction schedule.

The community center’s original therapy spa was installed in 1979 with a donation from the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Kiwanis Club. The hot tub stopped working in 2001, and in 2016 the top half was removed and covered up.

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

The South Portland Community Center will soon be home to a new hot tub, which sits by the pool waiting to be installed.The South Portland Community Center will soon be home to a new hot tub, which sits by the pool waiting to be installed. The hot tub will be installed in the construction area at left, adjacent to the pool. New tile around the deep end will also be installed. The diving board will be relocated a few feet further away to allow for the easy use of six starting blocks.The South Portland Community Center will soon be home to a new hot tub, which sits by the pool waiting to be installed.