Jim Dorney was edgy, almost as if he was about to be tested.
The front door to McDermott Pool was open, as were most of the side steel rollup doors. The breeze was cool with a hint of chlorine. It was 7:30 a.m. yesterday; the first day the pool has been open in a month. It has undergone its first major reconditioning since it opened in the 1970s.
Dorney manages the pool and Thayer and Warbuton arenas, and for the last 29 days – even July 4 – he’s been at McDermott.
“Am I in the same place?” asked Tom Duff as he walked in to look at the pool.
Duff has been swimming at McDermott twice a week for years. He’s missed the routine but was delighted with the changes.
“My body says I missed it,” he remarked, and added, “This is the best secret in Rhode Island, right here.”
As a pool regular for 20 years, Gene Messier, called the renovations “awesome.” While drying off in the newly tiled men’s locker room, Messier said the building is clean and looks much easier to keep clean.
He’s right; the place sparkles.
Dorney ran down the scope of the work:
The main and the therapeutic pools were drained and painted; a lighter and brighter color scheme was used to paint the interior; new lights were installed; clouded Plexiglas windows in the lobby were replaced with glass; doors were replaced and a ceiling heater and duct work that once hung above the pool was removed.
The most dramatic changes were made to the locker rooms, where rust-prone steel lockers were replaced with fiberglass units; fixtures were replaced; walls tiled; ceiling tiles replaced; and the cement floor covered with non-slip epoxy.
Dorney said the project grew as crews got into the job and discovered one minor repair led to another, and so forth.
“It was the domino effect,” he said. “I think we did a lot more than we set out to do.”
With the exception of the epoxy flooring, all the work was completed by city crews. Michael Rooney, director of parks and recreation, who was also present for the opening, said the city would have never had the money to contract the work done.
Reached at City Hall, Mayor Scott Avedisian praised the job done by Public Works Director David Picozzi and his crews. He found it appropriate that the pool should re-open on one of the hottest days of the summer so far.
Summer open swim hours are: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:15 to 2:45 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There is no charge.
The “new” pool will get its first major test this weekend during a U.S. Swimming Association qualifying meet hosted by the Attleboro Blue Fish. More than 250 swimmers are expected to compete.