Pool Safe, Longevity Uncertain
The owner of an older car determined to “drive her til she dies” faces the nagging questions of how long it will keep running and whether major repairs to an aging vehicle are worth the investment. Northern officials have reached a similar point with the 31-year-old PEIF pool. It is nearing the end of its lifespan. An estimated $2 million would be required to renovate, which isn’t feasible in the current economic climate. But the pool will stay open as long as it poses no risk to users.
“I just want to stress that the pool is safe,” said Carl Bammert (Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports). “Routine maintenance will continue. We just spent $8,000 on new filters. We’re doing the best that we can to keep it running.”
For how long remains a mystery. It could be days or years, depending on the longevity of the filtration system and whether any structural breakdowns occur. For that reason, NMU has taken steps to notify the primary users of the touch-and-go situation.
The Division II swimming and diving team has been guaranteed one more competitive season. Harvey Wallace (HPER) was informed so his department could consider possible alternatives to the half-dozen classes, comprised of about 200 students, held in the pool area each semester. The media also were notified so they could share the news with community recreation members and the general public. The fate of the facility impacts a number of people. A recent two-week “participant count” showed that 800 individuals entered the pool area – some on more than one occasion during that period.
“This is worrisome from a revenue standpoint because aquatic programs are a major part of our operation,” said Brian Gaudreau (Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports). “Many people buy rec memberships just for the pool. There are also swimming lessons, lifeguard certification classes and a youth swim club that rents time in there. If the pool shuts down, we will lose rec members and revenue, there’s no doubt about it. It might also impact students who visit campus. Recreational facilities – from the climbing wall to the pool – can be a big draw. Even if students never use them once they get here, they want to know that those options are available.”
Cindy Paavola (Communications and Marketing) said the university wanted to be up front about the status of the pool so that impacted users wouldn’t be caught unaware if a quick decision is made to shut it down.