Campus Rec clarifies pool situation

By Maureen Wilkey

While many students on campus are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE) in January, many campus recreation patrons are concerned about the next phase of construction, which will close the two 50-yard pools at the Intramural Physical Education building (IMPE). About 35 of these concerned people attended a brown bag lunch with assistant aquatics director Edward Morford on Thursday afternoon.

Morford presented the proposed and tentative schedules of the pools that will remain open in Freer Hall and Kenney Gym, as well as the tentative schedule for the new CRCE recreation pool.

“When (IMPE) closes in the spring, the two 50 yard pools will close with it,” Morford said. “There are no great answers to the problem of the lack of pool space, but we are doing the best we can.”

The overall pool space will be significantly reduced from about 24,750 square feet to only 7,500 square feet when the two pools close, Morford said, although those numbers may change. Overall, 18 lanes of lap swimming and a diving well will be closed.

The outdoor pool at IMPE closed Thursday and won’t reopen until the spring of 2007. The closing of the indoor pool coincides with the opening of CRCE and will remain closed until construction on IMPE is completed.

In addition to having longer open-swim hours at Freer and Kenney, the Division of Campus Recreation will help members get a 50 percent discount at the Urbana Park District’s Indoor Aquatic Center to help ease the congestion of the other pools.

“A lot of members just come here for the pool usage and they are concerned about their ability to do that,” said Jami Barenthin, the marketing intern for Campus Recreation.

Despite being old buildings, Freer and Kenney both have good water filtration systems, Morford said. However, he did express some concern about the conditions of the locker room facilities at Freer and said that he will do as much as he can to improve those conditions.

“Freer is a state building that is financed through state funds,” Morford said. “It will probably have to support five times the capacity it has now.”

Although there will be less pool space when CRCE reopens and IMPE closes in the spring, the actual facility space will remain about the same, Morford said.

Gary Miller, the associate director of operations for construction, said the lunch meeting served its purpose in trying to keep Campus Recreation members aware of what was going on with the facilities and the construction.

“The swimmers are frequent users of the facilities, and they can be very inquisitive and should know what is going on,” Miller said.

When the pools reopen in two to two and a half years, some of the new features will include greatly improved air quality and acoustics, as well as water that doesn’t irritate the eyes and noses of some swimmers as much, Miller said.

While the actual pool shells will remain the same, the cosmetics of the building will be improved and more windows will be added, Morford said.