Katie Kinne

Residents share ideas for Needham's proposed Rosemary Pool Complex

Katie Kinne
Residents share ideas for Needham's proposed Rosemary Pool Complex

With the Rosemary Complex design mostly set, Needham officials are beginning their look at possible programming to offer at the site. The Park and Recreation Commission held a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 24 to gather public input.

Currently, the site at Rosemary Lake houses an outdoor pool and small facilities building. The proposed Rosemary Complex would replace the existing building with a two-story structure intended to house pool storage and facilities, the Park and Recreation Department and space for public programming.

With project permitting underway, and design and construction documents 75 percent complete, the commission is preparing to request Community Preservation Act construction funding from Town Meeting in the spring.

According to Recreation Commission Chairman Matthew Toolan, project cost is in line with the April projections which estimated a $16.7 million total cost.

The building’s second floor would feature a large multipurpose room, bathrooms, a kitchen and office space. It is expected to cost $1.9 million but would not be eligible for Community Preservation Act funding, as the Times reported in May.



1. The building would be solar ready - According to Toolan the town considered adding solar panels to the building but determined that the upfront cost would be too great. Instead, the commission decided to make the building solar ready should the town decide to install solar panels at a later time.

2. The competitive pool will be heated using solar pool covers - In response to requests to make the competitive pool, the commission decided to utilize solar pool covers, which will heat the pool at night.

3. The pool will have a spray park - Plans are in place to include a spray park, which could open earlier in the season and stay open later Toolan said.

4. There will not be an elevator in the building - Though some had requested an elevator for the building, Toolan said the commission had decided there was no need for one as the building would be accessible on both levels.

The goal of the Oct. 24 meeting, according to Toolan, was to focus on potential programming and gather public input.

“This is all for us to hear from the community, what would you like to see,” he said.

If built, the complex would operate year round. The pool could open longer during the summer season Toolan said, and indoor facilities such as the multipurpose room would allow the Park and Recreation Department to expand its programming.

“Our goal from a program standpoint is that we can probably do twice as many programs in this facility,” Toolan told the public.

Given the increased program capacity if the complex is built, the department hopes to offer activities for people of all ages, from children to seniors.

Ideas for programming ranged from a kayaking, canoeing and sailing program on the lake, to after-school programs and arts and crafts for all ages.

There was some interest in providing indoor basketball and volleyball courts. According to Toolan there would be space in the parking lot for an outdoor court, but not enough room inside the complex for an indoor one.

Several suggestions related to Rosemary Lake and the hiking trail around it. One speaker requested stations around the trail for activities like chin-ups; another asked for a ropes course for the Boy Scouts; and several suggested increased accessibility to the trail for hiking.

“I’m interested, and I think we’re all really interested in how we can make the surroundings available to us,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Matt Borrelli.

One Needham resident asked about impact of construction on the surrounding area and how many trees would be taken down.

Toolan explained the town would try to preserve as many trees as possible.

Several members of the public expressed concern that the project might fail at Town Meeting due to a lack of understanding that the complex is intended to provide year-round services.

In response Toolan encouraged residents to reach out to their Town Meeting representatives and ask them to support the project.

If the funding request fails at Town Meeting in the spring, Toolan said the existing building would likely be decommissioned – a $2 to $3 million project.

Whether or not the Rosemary Complex is approved at spring Town Meeting, the pool will not open for the 2017 season, Toolan said, due to the work and staffing required to open the pool, as well as the hope that Town Meeting will approve construction funding.