Off season swim facility succumbs to financial woes
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Tue., Nov. 8, 2011
Local resident Lynn Reid was dismayed by the letter that appeared recently in her mailbox. It read, in part, “As of Sunday, Oct. 30, the Easter Seals Camp Hemlocks pool will close for all youth swim lessons, evening and weekend adult and family swim for the remainder of the off-season, due to reasons beyond our control.”
Reid began swimming at the Hemlocks pool a couple of years ago. “I am one of many that find the warm waters beneficial to be able to exercise and keep moving without causing my joints to swell up,” she said. The pool was close, convenient and relaxing. “We don’t have many alternatives here in this part of Connecticut,” said Reid. With the Norwich YMCA closing several years ago, “The pool has been one of the last places on this side of the river for water aerobics, arthritis exercise, lap swim, family swim and swim lessons,” said Reid.
“We waited as long as we could to take this step,” said Leslie Chambers, executive director of advancement for Easter Seals, Coastal Fairfield County Connecticut. According to Chambers, the cost for keeping the pool open during the off-season averages $12,000 per month. “We’ve been subsidizing it for some time,” said Chambers.
Chambers said she sympathizes with displaced swimmers who have come to rely upon the facility. “I met with some of the ladies in the arthritis therapeutic swim group,” she said. “We’re trying to help them find another location.” Ultimately, Easter Seals hopes to be able to re-establish the winter swim season. “We need to look at programs we can run throughout the year,” said Chambers. In the meantime, Camp Hemlocks will remain closed until the start of the spring/summer season. “We want people to know that the whole camp isn’t closing down,” said Chambers. “Right now, it’s just the winter season.”
Easter Seals Camp Hemlocks would benefit from donations of both money and services. “We need a number of capital improvements,” said Chambers. Windows need replacing, as well as numerous other tasks related to general maintenance and upkeep. The HVAC system needs some work. “If there is a contractor out there who can provide some services,” said Chambers, “we’d certainly welcome that.”