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Voting Booths and Swishing Water

By Wethersfield Historical Society on September 5, 2011 1:44 PM

During the summer of 1948 "A refectory program at Mill Woods Park, instituted on 7/3/1948, was successfully conducted by Mrs. Walter Dudley throughout the swimming season."  The refreshment stand was constructed "using one of the town's discarded voting booths."   The booth was open from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Mrs. Dudley was paid $.75/hour plus a percent of sales.
   
A drought in 1949 forced the pool to enforce a 100-bathers-at-one-time limit.  Water from the north dam - treated daily with five pounds of chlorine and ten pounds of copper sulphate - was fed into the pool.  According to F. Ellis Backman, "the latter kills algae but...has not bothered the pool's fish or frogs."  As a result of the drought and the  "polio scare" of 1949 (which curtailed the usage of public pools nationwide), attendance at Mill Woods decreased by over 9,000 from the previous year (13,164 paid). 

Users of the pool also complained that the water was "murky" and might be a danger to the children using the facility.  In October of that year the Mill Woods Park Improvement Association named an eleven-member panel to investigate the problems and estimate cost of remedying them. Panelists identified in the October 31, 1949 Hartford Courant were: Dr. and Mrs. A.S. Deming, Burton A. Harris, Mrs. Robert J. Farrell, Daniel Whelton, Arthur De John, William Gustafson, Mrs. Ralph O. Magnuson, and Mrs. George T. Holbrook.
   
The group issued its report on February 15, 1950.  The document recommended: weekly testing and treatment of the water by the Town Health Officer and the publication of these results in the local newspapers; the addition of erosion-preventing logs and more sand to the beach area; the creation of a children's wading pool, and (most importantly) that the "entire basin of the pool could be 'stabilized', that is, mixed with cement, a process that has worked successfully on roads, landing fields, and a pool in New York" or (a less expensive alternative) that the entire bottom be covered with a ten inch layer of clean gravel and sand..  They estimated the cost of the stabilization at no more than $11,000.  Representatives of the Portland Cement Company showed a film of the process, which actually mixes the cement with the soil at hand - according to a "scientifically tested formula".
   
Later that year Park Board Chairman Henry S. Griswold announced a new plan for circulating water at the pool which, if successful, would get the clay and mud off the bottom of the pool by having the current push it downstream.  At that time water entered the pool from Goff Brook at the southwest corner and was divided into two streams that went around either side of the pool and exited at a spillway at the northeast corner.  Under the new system, the water from the east side stream would be diverted back into the pool to circulate with the other stream - "how you clean a bathtub by swishing water all around the sides."
   
Also in July of 1950 the Park Board gave permission to the town Little League Committee permission to get a purchase price for land east of the town road and north of Goff Brook Green from the Horowitz Estate for Little League fields to be moved from the Broad Street Green.  In September the committee reported back that 8.5 acres, 200 feet from Prospect Street was available for sale at $10,000 or lease at $1,000 per year.  In February the Board reported that there would be new Little League fields north of the brook and on land purchased from Hattie C. Shephard on the west side of her property.
   
In November the Park Board Chair Henry S. Griswold announced the go ahead for a concrete dam project at Mill Woods.  Architectural plans drafted by Henry W. Buck of the firm Buck and Buck were presented, examined and accepted by the board.  The concrete dam was completed that year and was replaced in the year 2000.
   
Additional land was purchased over the next several years from Rose Fazzini, (6/25/48 -west side between baseball fields); Harry N Griswold (10/21/1952 - east 1/2 of woods; Merritt N Baldwin (11/10/1961 - East 1/2 tennis court, Northeast baseball field, woods & stream); Stephen Morgan, (1/29/1962 -South 2/3 pond); Newton H Griswold Jr. (6/25/1963 - South exit way); and Alps Enterprises (9/25/67 - south end of dirt rod beside Upper Pond).    

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