Future of the Outdoor Pool
The existing outdoor pool continues to be operable, according to guidance provided by the state Department of Environmental Services. However, we at the university are very concerned about the extensive list of deficiencies that have been documented. We are no longer willing to accept the health and safety risks they present for our community.
The University of New Hampshire is committed to having an outdoor pool, both for its own programming purposes and as a resource to share with our neighbors in Durham.
We are evaluating changes to the existing pool to provide the level of health and safety protection we consider necessary. However, we must also consider the cost to upgrade the existing pool and the degree to which these upgrades would impact the character and amenities the current pool provides.
Data on current usage and our programming projections suggest that a different balance between water and green space around the pool would better meet the combined needs of the university and the town. Moreover, a smaller pool would continue to provide such amenities as zero entry, graduated depth and swim lanes, while the expanded gathering space would enhance social activity beyond what is possible with the current facility. This reallocation of space also would make room for missing amenities, such as showers and changing space. A modern pool could extend the swimming season and potentially allow outdoor skating.
Our goal in the next few months is to develop a plan for a facility that is safe, accessible, and financially sustainable. A town/gown working group has reviewed alternatives which we will discuss at an open forum to be scheduled for the early fall.
Many of us feel an attachment to the history of the pool. Still, it is important to recognize that much of the original structure has disappeared over time. Concrete has replaced much of the original stonework and granite pavers, as well as the sandy bottom and beach that characterized the early facility. Nearly 40 percent of the bottom and more than half of the perimeter have been replaced by concrete or pavement.
While a smaller pool would facilitate the expansion of recreational fitness facilities for UNH students adjacent to the existing Hamel Recreation Center, plans for recreation facilities are not driving decisions about the future of the pool. That said, we do believe that both an expanded recreation center and an outdoor pool can be accommodated.