The town will soon select a company to design, build and operate a pool and ice rink at Braintree High School now that two qualified bidders for the project have been identified.
A selection committee will examine the proposals over the next few weeks and choose a firm around Thanksgiving, Mayor Joseph Sullivan told the School Committee earlier this week.
Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation last November allowing Braintree to use a "design-build" approach, potentially saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by having one firm involved in all stages of the project.
Under a 30 to 50-year contract the town will retain ownership of the land at BHS, between the football field and Granite Street, and will be able to take over or re-bid the property if the operator doesn't comply with the terms. The plan is for an indoor pool and ice rink that will have public skate times as well as availability for local teams.
Selection committee members include Town Councilor Tom Bowes, School Committee member Tom Devin and others from the community.
"It has been a long saga and we've made some progress," Sullivan said.
The Petersen Pool complex, as its known, has been decades in the making. In the years since tugboat Capt. August Julius Petersen died in 1963 and gave Braintree $65,000 for a pool at Watson Park, the funds grew to nearly $2 million and town officials fought to allow the pool to be placed elsewhere after some neighborhood residents criticized the original location.
Two years ago, Sullivan proposed placing the pool at the high school, partnering with a private company and adding an ice rink as well. Braintree will contribute $1.5 million from the Petersen fund, and the company is expected to make an initial investment of $8 million to $10 million.
The remaining Petersen money was earmarked for improvements at Watson Park, including a splash pad, parking and revamped walking trails.
If all goes well, Sullivan said, the athletic complex will be in place sometime in 2013.