Whether bringing a community together during a global pandemic or trying to see who can swim the fastest lap, the Hall Memorial Pool is making quite the splash.
Located in Stoneham, the pool is owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) . In 2012, with limited funding, the pool hours were reduced, certain amenities were lost and equipment was out of date.
Unfortunately, DCR budget cuts forced the pool to eventually close. Local and state officials including Richard Tesei, Katherine Clark, Jason Lewis, and Michael Day began to form a relationship to bring back the pool as a community resource.
Starting in the summer of 2014, the pool remained owned by the state, with the Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield maintaining the day to day operations. State officials were instrumental in bringing together the mutual interests of DCR, a state organization, along with the local voices of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield, as well as parents and residents.
“In general, there is a lot of need for communication between the state authorities and the residents of a community,” said Thomas Dalton, the Communications Director for State Senator Jason Lewis. “Representatives play a big role as intermediaries because they’re from the community and represent the community, but they also work in the statehouse in close proximity to state agencies.”
In its seven years of managing the pool, the Clubs have created and partnered with several community initiatives. The Clubs offer water and swim safety camps in partnership with District Attorney Marian Ryan & the Michael Phelps Foundation, as well as offering employment to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Communitas program.
“The general mission of the Club is to make life better in our community. There are so many positives that come out of having a resource like [the pool],” said CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield Adam Rodgers.
Even with COVID-19, the Clubs have sold more season passes for the pool than ever. To ensure the safety of the community, the club requires reservations to attend the pool and splash park with limited capacity to account for social distancing.
“I think being just open has a really big push for the pool. If you were to ask me in April if the pool was going to open this summer, I probably would have said no,” said Rodgers. “Our staff has worked really hard to make it safe and accessible. It’s been great to see families use it as a community resource when so many things are closed.”
The newest partnership for the club has been with swimmers from local teams, including some from the Wakefield High School boys’ and girls’ swim team and the Burbank Bluefins. Wakefield resident Kristina Patt, the mom of WMHS swimmer Katie Patt, organized a partnership with the Clubs to ensure swimmers can continue their training.
25 swimmers aged 11 to college-aged swim at the pool on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7 AM to 9 AM.
“With what’s going on with COVID-19 a lot of [indoor swimming pools] have been shut down for an awfully long time and we haven’t been able to train. We have been blessed to partner with the Club to provide some space,” said Kristina Patt.
The Hall Memorial Pool has also offered the traditional 50-meter Olympic sized pool, allowing swimmers to continue to build a high level of stamina they need during the long-distance races. Swimmers are kept safe by limiting three to a lane and can not use the locker rooms. With having nowhere to swim during the shutdown, the Hall Memorial has offered a return to normalcy, both as kids and swimmers.
“It gives the children an opportunity to socially interact with each other, to continue their training and their commitment to their craft and develop their sport,” said Patt.
By bringing organizations together, the pool has become a community resource for years to come.
“Since 2013, when the Hall Memorial Pool partnership between the Commonwealth and the Boys and Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield was first conceived, the successful public-private partnership has consistently ensured that the Hall Memorial Pool remains a popular summer recreational destination for Stoneham families and an important resource for the community,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “We’re all grateful that the Boys and Girls Club stepped up to take this important role, and we are proud of their outstanding work over the years.”