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NCCC releases pool survey results

March 15, 2019
By JESSE ADCOCK - For the News (news@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Local residents would like to see more programs offered at the North Country Community College pool at hours that are more convenient to them, according to a recent survey conducted by the college.

The college announced at the end of 2018 that it was looking at whether to keep the pool or convert the space in the Sparks Athletic Complex to add more locker rooms, a fitness and studio space, and offices to the facility.

A total of 491 people took the online survey, which the college will use to help inform future decision-making about the pool.

Article Photos

The North Country Community College pool is located inside Sparks Athletic Complex on the college’s Saranac Lake campus.
(Provided photo — NCCC)

Susan Hahn, who says she swims at the pool two or three times a week, suggested a few ways forward for the pool. She's recently organized a group, called Supporters of the NCCC Pool, to push for keeping the pool.

"First of all, the pool hours aren't convenient for people with jobs because the pool isn't open in the early morning or evening," Hahn wrote in an email. "Also, many people in the area don't even realize that pool is open to the public. ... So publicizing the pool and offering 'Get Acquainted' sessions would help increase pool users."

Among the highlights of the survey, a large number of respondents (21 percent) said they haven't used the college pool in the past year, while others (15 percent) said they use it several times a season or two to three times per week (11 percent). Another 21 percent haven't used in the past year, but have used it historically.

When asked why they don't use the pool, or use it as often as they'd like, nearly 40 percent said the hours are not practical while another 17 percent said they weren't even aware the pool was open for community use. Some people said the locker rooms are outdated and/or lack privacy.

Programs people are most interested in seeing at the pool include open and lap swimming, swim lessons, water aerobics and lifeguard training. Swim teams and scuba diving instruction were also suggested. Respondents said they'd be more likely to use the pool on weekday evenings and throughout the day on weekends.

"I strongly believe the pool should be maintained due to the evolving health and fitness needs of our communities; we are living longer and are suffering from more diseases associated with longevity, particularly arthritis," wrote Jim Grant, member of Supporters of the NCCC Pool.

Ninety-three percent of respondents said they are willing to pay a fee to use the pool, which the college currently charges. Asked if they'd pay a higher fee if the money was used to hire a recreation director to publicize, market and coordinate programs for the pool, 42 percent said yes, 40 percent were not sure, and 18 percent said no. Almost 80 percent of respondents said they would support the college seeking additional funding from its sponsoring counties to upgrade the pool.

"Although I hate to say it, I think the pool could charge higher fees. The new Adirondack Health facility has sold hundreds of memberships, and their prices are high," Hahn wrote. "But at the same time, the pool also needs to be viewed as a community asset. Children need swim lessons, seniors need low-impact exercise opportunities and some people need physical rehabilitation."

A final question allowed respondents to provide additional comments. Most used the opportunity to encourage the college to find ways to keep the pool open, while just a handful supported closing it.

The survey results and comments have been distributed to the college community. An engineering firm hired by the college recently outlined a draft master plan for the Saranac Lake campus that, among other projects, looked at the feasibility of either closing the pool and replacing it with needed fitness center and locker room space, or keeping the pool and expanding the athletic complex to provide for those additional uses.

Dan T. Jenkins, member of Supporters of the NCCC Pool, said he hopes for more creative thinking in what the college plans to do with the space - that they consider the option of adding a second floor to the hallway of the Sparks Athletic Complex, or adding a second floor above the pool.

"There's got to be a little more creative thought to it," Jenkins said. "The college needs to test something for a limited amount of time ... to test out the community."

NCCC President Steve Tyrell is meeting with community members and staff next week to review a proposed business plan for sustaining some form of a future aquatics program at NCCC.

"We're still exploring how we could maintain the pool as a viable operation and potentially enhance it as a recreational asset to the college and the community," Tyrell said in a press release. "We will continue to work with community leaders and those with expertise in the field to address these important questions.

"Determining that there is a viable way to sustain a revamped aquatics program is an important hurdle to get over," Tyrell added. "Then the capital investment needed to meet current and future needs in the Sparks Facility has to be addressed. The JMZ master plan report clearly identified the price tag required to do this right, now let's see if we can all work together to make that capital investment happen."

 
 

 

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