I think this is going to be a huge energy saver,” Warwick Superintendent of Buildings Joe Blake said Tuesday morning of the new energy efficient boilers that will today begin heating McDermott Pool at 925 Sandy Lane. “I believe they have a 20-year warranty at 97 percent efficiency.”
Additionally, the facility’s two pools, which have been closed for annual maintenance since Sept. 2, will re-open Sept. 25.
Jim Dorney, facilities manager of McDermott Pool and Thayer Arena, said he anticipates a “substantial” savings, as the old boilers were not up to par. The cost of the project was $109,000, minus a $12,000 rebate from National Grid, McDermott’s gas provider, for upgrading to the system. The money came from the city’s contingency fund.
“I’m pretty sure the payback is going to be less than 10 years because if we paid, say $1,000 a month, and we’re running at 36 percent efficiency and you boost that to 97 percent, that’s going to cut the bill by at least a third or fourth,” Dorney said.
The savings don’t end there. While the boilers were purchased from National Grid, about a dozen or so Department of Public Works (DPW) employees recently constructed a small building off the side of the pool to encase the boilers. Dorney said they decided to house the units separate from the 250-gallon chlorine tank to allow for maximum longevity of the boilers, as chlorine tends to be corrosive.
As a result, DPW masons, carpenters and electricians worked in shifts of three during the last few weeks to complete the building as soon as possible. Dorney and Blake praised their efforts.
“They did a really good job,” Dorney said. “We’re really impressed with the building.”
Further, the boilers are better for the environment.
“You have a lot lower emissions and it’s running off clean natural gas,” said Dorney. “We were running off clean natural gas before, but the boilers were basically dying a slow death, so it was kind of like running an old clunker car, as opposed to a new car.”
With more than 300 annual members, an equal amount of monthly pass holders, plus countless walk-ins, heating the pools at McDermott is important to the city for recreational and therapeutic purposes alike.
Swim teams from throughout the state, as well as Massachusetts, Connecticut and Southern New Hampshire, frequent the 300,000-gallon “main pool,” which is heated at approximately 80 degrees. The pool ranges from three feet to 10.5 feet deep and is of Olympic length, or 50 meters, and two lanes shy of Olympic width.
The 15,000-gallon therapeutic pool is kept at 96 degrees, and is three feet, six inches in depth. People suffering from ailments, including arthritis, use the pool to soothe their pain, as do disabled military veterans.
To further help veterans, the council unanimously approved a resolution in December that reduced the price of a yearly pool pass from $150 to $80, and discounted their monthly pass price for vets from $20 to $10. Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, a Navy veteran, sponsored the legislation.
Seniors pay the same as vets, while Warwick residents pay $150 per year.
Mayor Scott Avedisian, who Dorney said has been very supportive throughout the process of acquiring the boilers, said McDermott is an important amenity to the people of Warwick.
“Hundreds of people each week recreate, exercise and socialize due to McDermott Pool,” said Avedisian. “The hot water therapeutic pool is vitally important to people going through physical therapy after surgeries or injuries. In this community, it has always been about quality of life issues. The library, the rinks, the pools, parks and open space all add significantly to that quality of life.”
Dorney feels the same. He said this “massive” upgrade is essential to the city.
“This is what’s going to allow us to keep a big thing like this running in a recession,” said Dorney. “Not many communities, if any, have a pool and two rinks.”
As noted, the pools are closed once a year for about a month right after Labor Day for general upkeep. Tasks include fixing pluming issues, if any, power washing locker rooms and the decks surrounding the pools, and painting the pool.
“That was something that used to go out to bid and cost $28,000, but now we’re doing it in-house [biannually] for $2,000,” Dorney said. “It’s a huge savings and we enjoy doing it. And if we save money in energy, we can put money into getting new doors that [won’t] suffer from the chlorine. Hopefully, over the next few years we’ll have new doors, too.”