Guest Op-Ed: Few Answers Coming Out of Second Meeting on Clougherty Pool

By Friends of the Clougherty Pool

As we brace for the upcoming heat wave, which Mayor Wu has declared a heat emergency, the Charlestown community is missing its outdoor Clougherty Pool.

Last week’s community meeting about the sudden closure of the Clougherty Pool drew a strong turnout, but provided few answers to the more than 150 residents who attended and joined online.

On July 13, residents and government officials gathered again at the Knights of Columbus to discuss the status of the community pool. Government officials in attendance included: State Representative Dan Ryan, District 1 City Councilor Gabriela Coletta, City at Large Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, Erin Murphy, staff from Senator Sal DiDomenico’s office and BCYF Commissioner Marta Rivera. NBC 10 also reported on the event in the evening news.

Commissioner Rivera provided an overview of the most recent engineer’s report on the pool, which concluded the repairs needed to safely open may not be possible within the 2022 summer season. Residents pressed for an explanation on why BCYF allowed the pool to fall into disrepair in the first place, and demanded the Commissioner go on the record with her intent to reopen the pool in 2023.

Commissioner Rivera did not make a commitment to reopen the Clougherty, rather she said that BCYF was committed to understanding what was wrong with the pool and understanding its options, including commissioning another structural engineer’s report. Commissioner Rivera also provided information on pool upkeep, acknowledging the last time the pool was overhauled was 1988 and that the 20-year filtration system installed that same year had long-since expired.

Several residents, including Tom Cunha, requested more specifics on precisely what was wrong with the pool. Many residents expressed frustration that BCYF did not properly maintain the pool, nor draw down the designated funding first secured by former Councilor Sal LaMattina for the 2013-17 city capital budget.

Another resident and former BCYF employee Leslie Parker-Sproul questioned whether the Commissioner or the BCYF staff were being forthcoming about the safety issues and lack of response, citing a meeting that she participated in in 2013 when the BCYF staff admitted to the need to repair the pool to ensure public safety. She claimed the needed repairs, which were well-known to the staff, were never done, and that BCYF was well aware of the safety risks while they continued to operate the pool until 2021.

“The city dropped the ball. Repairs were supposed to be done. They haven’t been done. We want answers, we want accountability,” said Naomi Hastings who also pressed public officials for accommodations like shuttles and specific hours when Charlestown residents could use the Mirabella pool in the North End. While officials at the meeting initially suggested this would be possible, Naomi has received no further response from the officials.

Others, including Moe Gillen, spoke about generations of residents using the pool, as one resident stated, “We are not a rich community, we depend on this pool in the summer.” Repeatedly residents stated Charlestown is home to the largest public housing development in New England and that the city’s decisions have created greater inequities and limited access to critical outdoor space.

Several residents noted Charlestown has the least amount of green space in the city, and yet is experiencing increasing levels of commercial and residential development, along with major road construction – increasing the pressure and stress on the neighborhood.

One resident stated, “Why has Charlestown been left behind?  You look at the North End and East Boston and our pool and parks are neglected.”  Residents reiterated that the BCYF-suggested alternatives of sending our kids and seniors over to the North End’s Mirabella pool was unreasonable, having to cross four highways, including the temporary North Washington Street bridge and potentially not being allowed in due to Mirabella pool capacity limits.

Representatives from Friends of Clougherty Pool, Friends of the Doherty Park, and the Charlestown Mother’s Association voiced support for the outdoor pool reopening. Residents pressed the elected officials for a statement of support to repair the pool and ensure long-term safety and maintenance issues would be addressed.

City Councilor Coletta stated she would work with Mayor Wu and Commissioner Rivera to support the repair and opening of the pool. At Large City Councilor Murphy voiced her support to reopen the pool along with additional findings from her research around the $2.7 million that had been designated for the pools repairs nearly a decade ago, but had not been drawn down by BCYF.  At Large Councilors Mejia and Louijeune both spoke at length on their commitment to Charlestown, their empathy with the community’s struggle, and their desire to come together. State Representative Dan Ryan encouraged residents to continue to voice their concern.

Pressed again for a commitment, BCYF Commissioner Rivera did not commit to reopening the pool.

Following the meeting the Friends of the Clougherty Pool emailed Mayor Wu and her administration, the City Council, the City Auditor, and State Legislators, stating: “With over 1,770 signatures on our petition and hundreds of residents who have attended rallies and community meetings, the Charlestown community has spoken with one voice: we demand the repair of the Clougherty Pool so that it will open for the 2023 Season, as well as repairs and updates to the pool so that it can continue to a long-term resource for the community.”

The group made a series of requests, including:

A request that BCYF Commissioner Rivera provide a report to the community by Wednesday, August 3 on the following:

1)       Due date for the finished assessment of the pool’s problems and options for repair and cost analysis

2)       The schedule the Commissioner is going to direct to trigger all the steps needed to begin work from project prioritization based upon the assessment, to issuing bids to contractors for the work, contractor selection, issuing work orders, and work to commence.  

3)       An explanation of the dollar authority she has to order work on the pool right now, without a further act of the City Council or Mayor Wu providing additional dollars from somewhere else in the City budget.

The Friends of the Clougherty Pool also requested that the City Council schedule an on-the-record hearing in August or early September of the Government Accountability, Transparency, and Accessibility Committee of the Council to hear testimony from BCYF Commissioner Rivera and City Auditor Maureen Joyce on:

1)       Commissioner Rivera: The status of the timetable to fix the pool and what exactly is being done with the money allocated and what further budget needs are there to complete pool repairs.

2)       City Auditor Joyce: Report on the exact trail of city funds designated for the Clougherty Pool, the status of those funds, what’s restricted, what are the general ledger codes being assigned to track pool designated funds, a delineation of capital and operating expenses for the pool, and other questions about money, including the relevant agreement with the George Robert White Fund. 

Finally, the group announced its next community meeting for Tuesday, September 13 – 6pm at the Knights of Columbus at 545 Medford Street, Charlestown. All government officials have been invited and residents are encouraged to stay engaged and show their support for the pool.

For now, the group urges residents to stay safe during this heat wave: “Stay safe, take it easy and take care of your family and neighbors.”

The Friends of the Clougherty Pool

The Friends of the Clougherty Pool have started a public Facebook group: The petition to reopen the Clougherty Pool is available at:

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