Plans post pool

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Plans are in the works for the area adjacent to the Maher Athletic Center formerly occupied by the pool.

According to Dr. John Plotts, executive vice-president, the decision to fill in the pool was taken very seriously. He oversaw the filling of the pool which now looks like a plane of dust surrounded by the brick of the deck.

“It was not an easy decision to fill in the pool,” Plotts said. “We did consult with the primary constituents of the pool: Student Life, Summer Programs, [and] Athletics.”

Before being filled in, the pool was quite expensive to maintain in terms of keeping it running, in part due to it being old and leaky. 

Plotts said that for the administration to keep the pool open, it would have to be replastered. He estimated the price of such a project to be between $70-74 thousand dollars. The administration decided that this amount of money and the ongoing maintenance costs could be better used. They determined that a new pool should be included in the university’s long-term “master plan.”

Part of closing the pool involved filling it in but the university is also ending the lease on the pumps. The school also wants to tear down the fence by Christmas, Plotts said. 

Aside from the pumps, the university owns all of the other accoutrement around the pool from the lifeguard’s equipment to the deck seating. UD has yet to make a determination as to whether these should be sold or donated or put into storage for future use.

“The general consensus is that we’d like to have a pool,” Plotts added.

This consensus does not extend to the use of that particular space. The administration is still developing plans on what to do with the area formerly occupied by the pool.

“I think it is too early in this process to say there is consensus around any potential plan, including ideas for a new pool, a sports court, or some other idea,” said Benjamin Gibbs, executive director for operations. “We need to be prudent in our investigation of what could be done in this important area of campus, and anyone in our community should feel free to raise ideas as we investigate and evaluate options.”

Among these ideas are a versatile sports court which could be used for everything from basketball to pickleball. As plans are finalized and funds raised, Plotts indicated that the university could see such a sports court as early as spring.

“These types of courts offer a lot of flexibility, and once we have a better understanding of our options, we can begin to think about what sports/activities could be included,” Gibbs elaborated. “Activities such as volleyball, tennis/pickleball, small-sided soccer, and others have been suggested by members of our community. The scope of these activities, the size of a potential court or field, and the project’s total cost are still being investigated.”

Whatever the plans end up being, the administration hopes that students can use it for sports and recreation. The location is particularly suited to these ends, being located adjacent to the athletic center and opposite a parking lot from the sports fields. 

Plotts said that the administration is taking into consideration that it might be used more than just the pool, which he said, was sparsely used.

“We are currently in the process of investigating several ideas for the space,” Gibbs said. “There is a growing and consistent need for student recreational space, particularly workout and outdoor activity space, and these needs have motivated the investigation thus far.”

The administration is still open to student input as to what the space should be used for, Gibbs said. There is not currently a formal survey, but students are still encouraged to offer or support ideas.

Plotts gave an example of how student comment has shifted the administration’s plans. Among earlier plans was a sand volleyball court. After discussion with students, this idea was abandoned for low enthusiasm. UD already has a sand volleyball court on the East side of campus, between Madonna and Theresa Halls.

“President Sanford, Dean Roper, and others have expressed the need for more student and communal recreation space,” Gibbs said. “The site of the former pool could accommodate some of these needs, and given this possibility, we will certainly investigate any option that could better serve our students and our community.”

As the plans continue to develop, student concerns do matter and can help make the space better attenuated to the interests of the entire community.

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