Director of Public Works Bethany Leavitt addresses the crowd at Glen Mary pool July 18. She said she’s hoping to come up with a more permanent solution for the current renovations needed. ISLANDER PHOTO BY VICTORIA DECOSTER

Parks & Rec seeks long-term solution for Glen Mary pool

BAR HARBOR — More than three dozen citizens showed up to the Glen Mary Park during an on-site Parks and Recreation Committee meeting to discuss the long-term maintenance of the pool on Monday night. 

“There’s so few things in this town that are for the locals and when you think about it, this is about it,” Ellen Grover said. “How many of us have memories of bringing our kids here or being a kid yourself here? It’s what we need but it’s been neglected, and it needs help.” 

The meeting comes after an update from Town Manager Kevin Sutherland in April announcing the closure of the dilapidated pool for the 2022, and likely 2023, season due to water pipe corrosion. 

Director of Public Works Bethany Leavitt said there is $118,000 appropriated in the 2023 fiscal year budget for the pool, but supplementary funds are needed just for basic upgrades. 

According to town assessments, fixing the pool this summer became unrealistic after initial cost estimates reached upwards of $250,000 and no contractor could be found to complete the work within the necessary timeline.  

“To continue to put dollars into this patchwork is not efficient, not working and not a good way to spend taxpayers or any money,” said John Kelly, chair of the Parks and Rec Committee. 

Leavitt said the last full upgrade to the pool was completed in 2009, and the work was expected to last 25 years.  

“I think we really have to look long term. I don’t just want a money pit here, which we have right now,” said Dick Cough, president of Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association. “So, I think if we start from scratch, you will have something that lasts a long time and it will be safer for the kids.” 

Cough has come up with a new design concept to use saltwater chlorinators and replace the hot top with concrete, which will eliminate oil produced by asphalt material and minimize algae growth. His vision also includes some fun water features like a splash pad for kids, a deeper end of the wading pool and shaded benches and picnic tables. 


“We actually have an anonymous donor willing to donate to this,” said Cough. “The VIA, no question, will be putting money into the project too.” 

He said he wants to upgrade the park while still maintaining its integrity in keeping with the wishes of Mary Shannon, who donated the land in 1894, erecting Glen Mary as the first park ever in Bar Harbor. 

“One of the things that I’ve noticed is how much Glen Mary’s meant to locals who’ve been here,” said Burt Barker, whose mother, wife and two daughters were lifeguards at the pool. “Many people were taken by surprise when this happened. I think it created a lot of anxiety and anger.” 

Barker voiced his frustration over how, he believes, such few funds from the Parks and Rec budget are going into investments for kids ages 2-12. 

“We rely on volunteers for our youth programs and sports; we rely on volunteers for our park downtown,” said Barker. “The town’s had very little responsibility in recreation for a long, long time and I think it’s time to buck it up and get some money in the budget for recreation.”  

Dawna Burton, who owns a home-based day care in town, said her kids used the facilities during previous summers as a place to play and swim. Burton reached out to the committee in hopes that water sprinklers could be put in the ballpark until Glen Mary is fixed.  

“I have 10 hot kids every day,” Burton said. “Now this summer, we have nowhere to go.” 

Town Council Chair Valerie Peacock encouraged concerned residents to participate in the Comprehensive Planning Committee’s public engagement forums taking place in November. She said the comprehensive plan is a big picture, 15-year project to build permanent budgeting around future investments and programs in Bar Harbor. 

“There was so much talk from people who had not only used it with their kids, they as kids used it,” said Kelly. “If you were using the same facility 40 years ago, that in and of itself says it’s time to rebuild it.”  

Kelly said the next steps for the committee is working in concert with the VIA and the Public Works director to provide a blueprint recommendation to the Town Council, which makes final decisions for the park.  

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster covers the Bar Harbor area including town boards and committees. She recently moved to the island after graduating from Syracuse University last year. Contact Victoria with tips and story ideas at [email protected].
Victoria DeCoster

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