After years of neglect, along with poorly executed and managed maintenance contracts, the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation is exploring two options for the 50-year-old Hagåtña pool: apply an expensive stopgap, or dig it up and build a new one.

“The problem with the Hagåtña swimming pool is (that) it’s over 50 years old and has been neglected over the years,” said DPR Director John Burch. “The cost for repairing the pool is over $260,000.

“Because of the age of the swimming pool, any repairs made could be viewed as a temporary fix.”

On Friday, Burch met with the Guam State Clearinghouse to discuss using federal dollars to build a new pool or repair the existing one.

By next year, Burch had hoped to have a new pool, but the idea was shot down.

"After meeting with the Guam State Clearinghouse, I will not be building a new Olympic-sized swimming pool this year, Burch said. "I have to search for another funding source." 

Although the Dededo public pool is not competition-friendly, Burch said, he will focus efforts there. 

"I will concentrate on repairing the northern swimming pool," he said. "Hopefully, I can have that operational before the end of the year. I have located federal funds for that project."

For the Hagåtña pool, all the documents required for the repairs have been completed, but the cost for the repairs is extremely high, he added.

For Burch, the Hagåtña pool remains a high priority, but with several DPR assets in dire need of repair, his short tenure has been filled determining problem areas, establishing priorities, finding creative ways to fund projects and managing insufficient budgets.

“A lot has happened since I've come on board at DPR,” said Burch, who was tapped to manage the agency March 14. “With the guidance of the lieutenant governor and the assistance of (the Department of Public Works), we've been able to procure contractual services to refurbish most, if not all, the restrooms in all the public parks under DPR's control. …

“I plan on doing a tour of all the construction sites next week with DPW.”

Tennis

After two months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic-caused public health emergency, the Enrique Ninete Tennis Center reopened on Sunday. But with construction scheduled to begin in late May or early June, the center may soon close.

“… Construction will start next week, but I've authorized limited use of the tennis courts to be supervised by Rick Ninete,” Burch said. “This, of course, will end the minute the contractor starts work. ...

"I expect repairs to the tennis courts might take a couple of months."