Editor’s note: report was posted at 2:22 p.m. Last updated at 8:38 p.m. with statement from Natick Athletic Director.
FRAMINGHAM – Keefe Technical High School’s pool will close for use this summer, announced Superintendent Jonathan Evans in a memo to high schools in MetroWest today, February 8.
“Our engineers have said that it is safe to use the pool until the end of our scheduled use for this year through July 2022,” said Supt. Evans to SOURCE. “We normally close the pool for maintenance and repairs after our summer program. It is at that time that we will not reopen without substantial repairs.”
That means Framingham High, Ashland High, Natick High, and other MetroWest swim teams will need to find a new home pool.
The pool, which is 50 years old, could be repaired, but an initial estimate is $5 million-plus, said Supt. Evans.
“We have been concerned about the condition of our pool structure for some time. In recent years, we have invested in shoring up some of the support columns under the pool and deck areas,” wrote Evans.
“Most recently, we engaged in a more in-depth study of the pool structure. This past weekend, we received the results of the a structural engineering report. We are still waiting for the final documents, but I want to share what we know,” wrote Evans to the local school districts today, February 8.
“The structural engineer who evaluated our site has determined that our pool structure is no longer safe to use beyond the scheduled use planned for this spring and summer,” wrote Superintendent Evans.
“The issue we have is the result of a failure of our waterproofing system,” said Evans. “While we have worked hard to maintain our pool over the years, this structure issue is not surprising for a pool like the one at Keefe Tech, which is now 50 years old.”
“Though our engineering report indicates a need for substantial repairs before re-opening after this school year, we plan to safely fulfill our obligation to municipalities and organizations that use the Keefe Tech Pool through July, 2022,” said Supt. Evans to SOURCE, who stressed the pool is safe to use.
“The initial cost projection” to repair the pool is “over $5 million,” the Keefe Tech superintendent wrote to area school districts – Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Holliston, & Hopkinton.
A capital project request for the pool – if made – would need to pass Town Meeting in Ashland, Natick, Holliston, & Hopkinton, as well as Framingham’s 11-member City Council.
The School Committee was notified of the report but has not discussed it yet at a public meeting.
The Committee met Monday night, and it was mentioned under new business, but since the report came in after the agenda was posted, there was no serious discussion of options, due to the Open Meeting Law.
Evans said to “our School Committee will be assessing options. Regardless of the outcome and decision made, it is unfortunately safe to say that the Keefe Tech pool will not be available for use after July 2022. This will require school swim teams and other organizations that we host to seek other options for at least next year.”
“We currently host all of our 5 municipalities’ high school swim teams,” said Supt. Evans. “Our pool is also used by the Natick Town Team, the Metrowest YMCA and Shawmut Aquatic Club.”
The Framingham Frogs, the Framingham Parks & Recreation swim team, as well as the Natick Neptunes Parks & Recreation swim teams also use the Keefe Tech pool for practices and meets.
“This will have a devastating effect on both of our girls and boys programs. Their home is essentially wiped out with no other options in the city at this point,” said Framingham High athletic Director Paul Spear to SOURCE.
“It must be so difficult for the Keefe Tech Community and all of the teams and athletes and coaches that called Keefe Tech Pool home over the last 50 years. Natick has so appreciated being a part of the swim and dive Keefe Tech Pool Community. We have been so fortunate to share the pool with Framingham (and all of the relationships that have been built between our Programs). How lucky have we been to compete against the Framingham Teams coached by Mike Foley and Ron Pereira but more importantly all of the times we spent practicing alongside them. And in recent years sharing the pool with Holliston, Hopkinton, Ashland, etc… I want to personally thank Mike Kane, Jeff Griffin, and Soraya Winters, and the Keefe Tech Administration for all of their hospitality and efforts to host BSC Swimming,” said Natick High Athletic Director Tim Collins.
“This is a big loss for our swim and dive programs. I will work with Paul Spear – Framingham Athletic Director – on finding a solution to our situation to ensure that our swim and dive programs have an excellent facility to compete in. Paul is a great partner and resource and I’m glad I will be working alongside him as we try to figure this out,” said Collins to SOURCE.
“Framingham’s athletic program is now in desperate need of tennis courts, a pool, additional gym space, a track we can access in cold weather, and other athletic/recreational space for our kids,” said Spear. “In years past we were able to run our golf program and swim programs at an effective cost because we had low cost in town options.”
Spear said it is a “difficult position we find ourselves in because at the same time we are being asked to expand athletic opportunities, we lack affordable facilities and have to turn to much higher cost venues mostly outside the city.”
“Combine this lack of facilities with the shortage of drivers for transportation and these programs are in jeopardy of becoming very limited in terms of what we can do competitively,” said the Framingham High athletic Director.
“The Parks & Recreation Department is disappointed to hear that the pool at Keefe Tech will be closing after July 2022,” said Framingham Superintendent of Recreation Elaine Prue.
“While this closure will not affect any of our currently running programs (swim lessons, public swim, lifeguard training, swim team), our department will have to adjust our sails, make some programming changes, and look into different opportunities for the foreseeable future. We have been fortunate to have Keefe Tech available in order to offer aquatics programming to the community,” said Prue. “While our department is committed to researching ways to fill this void, it is likely that any future aquatics programming will come with an increase of fees if we are able to find a different location to hold our programs.”