Pool project gains P&Z approval pending soil remediation

A bird's eye rendering of the Byram Park pool project

A bird’s eye rendering of the Byram Park pool project

The Byram Park Pool Project is now one step closer to reality after gaining approval from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Plans for the new municipal pool were approved during a Tuesday night meeting, on the condition that contaminated soil that had been discovered at the site be removed before construction begins.

Though there were some questions about the new facility’s capacity, the project saw no votes against its approval. The capacity of the new Byram Park beach and pool area has been set at 500 in order to satisfy local and state regulations. Alan Monelli, the town’s superintendent of building construction and maintenance, explained that the 500 cap is necessary to satisfy sewage and parking requirements for the facility.

While the previous maximum for the Byram Park beach and pool was a combined 575 people, the long-term closure of bathrooms at the pool meant that only 325 people could occupy the space at once. Furthermore, the current pool has a capacity of just 40 swimmers at a time, meaning that the actual demand rarely meets the upper limits of the capacity.

As planned, the new pool facility, which includes a main pool, kiddy pool and splash pad, would be able to hold 310 people. On-site parking would be increased to reach 139 total spaces to accommodate the increased pool area.

P&Z Commission members questioned whether or not beach-goers would be able to use the poolside restrooms if the pool reaches capacity, as the 310 pool limit could be reached before the combined threshold of 500 people in the park.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Siciliano told the P&Z Commission that his staff would be responsible for mediating the number of people entering the pool area and maintaining the limits on the general admittance to the beach area. This would include letting beach-goers use the pool rest rooms (which are not directly connected to the pool) and return to the beach.

“We can adjust, on any day, at any time of the week, or weekend or holiday, to put that monitor in there and run it up to 500 in the total facility; it’s pretty simple,” Mr. Siciliano said.

A report presented to the Board of Selectmen earlier this month revealed that elevated levels of arsenic had been discovered in specific areas of the project site earlier this month. The portion of the park referred to as the “Rosenwald property” has already been closed in preparation for soil remediation. Phase one and two tests on the soil showed no other contaminates besides arsenic, which is most present in the topsoil.

Mr. Monelli told the commission that the remediation process could take up to three months to complete, and that the town is currently in the process of finding new soil to replace the contaminated layer. He said that the highest levels of arsenic were present in the first three to 15 inches of soil, which would need to be removed for the project to proceed.

All of that contamination was on the Rosenwald property, as tests on the beach showed no arsenic, PCBs, pesticides, or any other potentially harmful substances. Discussions between Mr. Monelli’s office and the Board of Estimation and Taxation (BET) had not taken place at the time of the meeting, meaning that a proposed cost for the remediation has not been set.

“It’s going to be a job finding clean topsoil, because there are limits on the topsoil we bring in now; we want to make sure it’s clean,” Mr. Monelli said.

If remediation goes as planned, the project would be ready to begin construction in the spring. The estimated $7.5-million cost of the Byram Park project is to be funded through a public/private partnership between the town and the Junior League of Greenwich. The Board of Selectmen granted the project municipal improvement status during a July meeting, where Junior League President Cathy Youngman and Pool Planning Committee Chairman Sue Rogers reaffirmed the league’s support.

However, before the Junior League can launch its capital campaign in support of the pool, the BET and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) must approve the budget amount to be contributed to the project.

As budget season begins, Mr. Monelli and the Department of Public Works will be responsible for remediating the soil at Byram Park in time for potential approval in March. But with the approval of the P&Z Commission, the pool project is closer than ever to fruition.

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