Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 31, 2013

GCS SPECIAL ELCTION PREVIEW: Is new pool cheaper than two?

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL sherry.vanarsdall@goshennews.com
Goshen News

---- — GOSHEN — The pool at Goshen High School was completed in 1961.

“It was state of the art, but it is not now,” said Nate Duell, GHS swimming coach. “When we have breakdowns, it’s hard to find the parts since there is so much advancement in pool mechanics now. Our mechanics make parts to replace them or we have to spend a lot of money to create them or replace them.”

The pool at Goshen Middle School was built 20 to 25 years ago and Duell says the GMS pool has had mechanical issues, as well.

Registered voters living in the Goshen Community School district will vote on a bond referendum special election Tuesday. The referendum includes $10 million for a pool at either GMS or GHS as part of a $17.15 million construction project sought by GCS school officials.

“The pool breaks down two or three times a year and it always seems to be at the worst times,” Duell said. “Our kids do their best in all situations between both pools. You can paint and brighten (the walls and space) but it was still built in the 1960s. The pool needs an engine to run and it was designed to run 50 years ago. It’s not a system to retro fit.”

According to GCS Superintendent Diane Woodworth, the average cost of upkeep in the last decade has averaged $200,000 per year for the two pools.

“That’s for maintenance and everything needed to run the pools,” Woodworth said. “With a new energy efficient pool the savings would be approximately $125,000 per year. The money for maintenance comes from the Capital Projects Fund (CPF) which was really hit hard by tax caps.”

With the savings of $125,000 per year, it would be a big impact on the CPF fund with $1.25 million in a decade of savings with a new pool, Woodworth added.

There are currently 76 students on the swim team roster and with eight divers who use lanes 2 and 3 with the diving board, it leaves five lanes for the rest of them during practice, the coach said.

“We have to split up and double our practice time. Instead of being here for two-and-a-half hours, we are here for four hours after school,” Duell said. “We practice for an hour to an hour-and-a-half hours before school. With kids, a regular schedule is always better and we can’t provide that with the pool we have now.”

Duell says the referendum is more about a facility for the schools and the community.

“It will be better use of space than what we have now,” he said. “We are a growing school and a growing community. We need to keep up and this is an area where we are a little behind. The sport is growing.”

The pool would be available for the community to use, Superintendent Diane Woodworth said.

“It would be a competition pool and would be very busy at times,” Woodworth said. “There would be times it would be less busy, for example Sunday afternoons. I think there would be interest and it would serve more people,” Woodworth said. “The reason I said it would be a competition pool is that it’s going to be colder. For people who are swimmers that wouldn’t be a problem, but it might be for people who would be more interested in recreation.”

The current pool averages 80 degrees rather than the 85 to 87 degrees for backyard pools or the YMCA, Duell added.

“PE (physical education) kids can’t use the pool when the temperature goes down to 76 degrees,” he said. “PE swimming is part of the curriculum and even at 80 degrees it can still be chilly for some students. It’s important to be able to offer swimming to people.”

When no one is swimming in the pool area, it looks spacious and nice, Duell said.

“But when bleachers are brought in, we loose deck space,” he explained. “The upstairs has terrible viewing. Lane 7 can’t be seen from the upper level. It’s very hot up there.”

Besides the expense of the upkeep of the pools, storage space has become another issue and concern to the coach.

There are several Rubbermaid storage cabinets placed around the deck for storing supplies and broken equipment like swim lanes and flags.

“It doesn’t affect just the competitive sport or PE, it affects all other programs that come in here,” Duell said. “We can’t have other programs come in because of the lack of space. The tiles are chipped along the edge of the pool and on the deck. The drains, after 50 years, are tired and don’t drain very quickly. There can be standing water along the edge.”

The water level was about two to three inches below the white tiles near the gutters when Duell was checking on the pool during fall break.

“It isn’t where it should be and has dropped,” he said. “If it gets any lower, we wouldn’t be able to practice in here.”

What happens if the voters don’t pass the referendum?

“We keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Duell said. “This isn’t just about competitive swim and it’s not just about the swim team. The music (program) is growing and at some point, something will have to happen. It’s better for our students in general.”