Missouri Western administrators are trying to stay afloat before deciding on the future of the campus pool.
Western’s pool, located in Looney Hall, has been leaking water, and a lot of it… roughly five gallons every 45 seconds.
Shana Meyer, vice president for student affairs, said that the leaking water is not the pool’s only problem.
Because the pool is kept at about 83-85 degrees Fahrenheit, the new water being added as it leaks has to be heated to that temperature, increasing costs to keep the pool open.
Meyer said that the administration is looking at two options – building a completely new pool that is up to ADA requirements, along with updating the locker rooms, replacing glass in the pool area and completing other needed maintenance, or closing the pool permanently and making the area into a recreational space.
To build a new pool and update its surrounding area, Meyer estimated it would cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1.5 million. A request for a grant or donor has been made, but has gone without response so far.
Meyer said Western is in need of more recreational space, and building it would be much cheaper than building and keeping up with a new pool.
“Our exercise classes are full. Some faculty and staff are unable to take exercise classes because we have to make room for the students who want to, and some students can’t even get in,” Meyer said.
Adding another recreational space would open space for those classes.
However, community organizations use the pool for classes and practices, including an arthritis class and the Pony Express Swim Team. Many community members have responded by coming to the first pool forum hosted back in May and made it clear that they do not want the pool to close.
Meyer said the administration wants to hear what the students think.
“Student dollars are what keeps the pool open,” Meyer said.
According to the presentation given at the last pool forum, the pool is underused for what it costs to keep it open. An estimated seven Western students use the pool every day. Roughly, about twenty-five people, including community members, use the pool on a daily basis.
Meyer said another rising problem regarding the pool is keeping it staffed.
Wonda Berry, director of recreation services and facilities, said that Western currently employs twelve lifeguards.
Students who are enrolled in six or more credit hours are eligible to be lifeguards, however, Western lifeguards are required to pay for their own certification.
According to Berry, it costs $230 for a guard to be certified. This certification includes Professional CPR, First Aid, AED and Lifeguard Training, and each certificate stays valid for two years.
“We did have an individual donate four $230 dollar scholarships to individuals who want to pursue the lifeguard certifications,” Berry said. “They must take a pretest first to make sure they can pass the course.”
Although they have to pay to become certified, lifeguards on campus did get a raise from $7.50 to $10.00 on June 1.
Meyer said Western is working to solve the problem, including trying to find where the leak is located.
A dye test was conducted and showed that the leak is not in the drain or the bottom of the pool. However, the location of the leak is still unknown.
Meyer said they are planning to let the pool drain as far as it will due to the leak over fall or winter break, and will use the water level as a guide to find where the leak is located.
The pool will be open all semester unless a major mechanical error results its closing.
A student pool forum will be held on Sept. 30, 11 a.m., in Blum 218.