SHIRLEY -- The Benjamin Hill Pool usually opens on Memorial Day and with a few notable exceptions - including years when work was underway or the town couldn't come up with the money for needed repairs - it has been that way since the facility began operating.
This year, the opening was delayed by a couple of days when repairing, repainting and refilling the pool took slightly longer than anticipated. But it's in full swing now.
During a recent spell of 90-plus temperatures, people flocked to the refurbished pool, which opened on June 1, just in time for the weekend heat wave.
Originally part of a small ski resort that included a clubhouse and cafeteria as well as ski trails, rope tows and a T-bar lift, the swimming pool has been a town facility since 1984 In 2001 the Town Meeting established Benjamin Hill Park and appointed a committee to operate it.
The park now includes a winter sledding hill, picnic tables and a new pool house, built about where the old one was but smaller. With changing rooms and showers, restrooms, a snack bar and indoor seating, the pool and space is also available for rentals.
The pool house, named for longtime park committee member and lifelong town resident Donald "Butch" Farrar, who is also the town's building inspector and serves on the health board, was built with volunteer labor and donated materials, at no cost to the town.
In fact, volunteers do a lot of heavy lifting at Benjamin Hill, including grounds maintenance, building upkeep and recent work on the pool.
Operation of the park is funded through a revolving account with revenue totally derived from membership fees, rentals and concession sales.
The Benjamin Hill Park Committee notified the public in late May that the opening would be delayed and explained why.
With 30 coats piled on from annual paint jobs in the past, the cement pool's rubber paint was so thick that it was chipping and cracking and made it difficult to keep the pool surface clean. The build-up had to be removed so that cracks could be caulked.
It took three weeks to scrape and sandblast the walls and floor of the pool down to its "Gunite" cement shell. "This is the biggest pool reconstruction project...since new stainless steel gutters were installed, Donald Farrar said.
The weather set them back some, Farrar said, but the last of the painting was completed before predicted rain arrived. When the weather cleared and with more rain expected, the depth numbers and safety line were repainted. Then, It took four days to fill the pool, which holds 136,000 gallons of water.
"We will be celebrating 50 years since the pool and old ski area was constructed by the Heard family," Farrar said. "Watch for our open house in August."
Information about pool hours, admission and membership fees and rentals is available via a link on the town website, www.shirley-ma.gov