Just a note to my loyal Blogging Belmont readers about the status of the private effort to bridge an unexpected $388,000 shortfall for construction of a new Underwood Pool. With a bit more than a month to go, private donations stand at $93,000. Combined with dollar-for-dollar matching funds pledged by the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, that brings the total raised to $186,000: a hair shy of the halfway mark.
[Save the Underwood Pool. Click here to donate!]
In an e-mail dated September 18, Ellen Schreiber said that, with six weeks of fundraising left, Belmont residents have sent checks totaling $93,000, with donations ranging from $10 to $25,000. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still a long way to go!” Schreiber wrote.
Ellen is chair of the fundraising campaign along with former Selectman (and current Town Meeting member) Ralph Jones and Bob Mahoney, president of the Belmont Savings Bank.
Some background on this for those of you who are confused and wondering why there needs to be a private fundraising effort when the town voted for a debt exclusion to pay for the pool. The short answer is that Belmont got blindsided by Seaver Construction of Woburn, which came in with a $3.8 million proposal then withdrew its bid at the last minute, citing a clerical error. (Note to readers: beware of Seaver Construction!!)
State law prevents Belmont from negotiating with Seaver or other bidders, so the only option is for the town to go to one of the other construction firms that bid on the job and accept their offer. The next lowest bid to Seaver came from New England Builders and Contractors of Methuen – but was $388,000 more than the Seaver bid. The town now needs to come up with the difference to prevent the project from having to be put out to bid again (ruling our reconstruction by next summer). New England Builders has graciously extended their offer until the end of October. If Belmont’s private fundraising drive succeeds in closing the funding gap, New England Builders says it can begin construction immediately and have the pool ready in time for the summer 2015 season (winter weather permitting).
Belmont residents voted overwhelmingly to rebuild the pool last spring, with 62% of residents voting in favor of the debt exclusion. As Ellen notes in her letter, that support “includes young families and empty nesters, homeowners who are new to Belmont and those who grew up here, residents who use the pool and those who don’t.”
Donate now to keep a 101 year tradition alive in Belmont. Point your web browser to http://www.underwoodpool.com to donate!