MWSU Hears From Public on Possibility of Pool Closing

MWSU Hears From Public on Possibility of Pool Closing

Needing up to $1 million in repair and renovation work, officials at Missouri Western are considering closing their indoor pool.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western leaders heard from a concerned public Thursday at the second open forum to discuss the possible closing of the university's indoor swimming pool.

Limited use by students, rising maintenance costs and a difficult time finding lifeguards are some of the reasons given for considering the pool's closure.

"We're still at a point where we are exploring all options," said Shana Meyer, MWSU Vice-President for Student Affairs. For us, it's money. It all comes down to money."

Since university officials announced last month they were considering closing the pool, some in the community have rallied. There was a full conference room of those supporting keeping the pool open at the meeting.

However, officials said their first priority has to be students.

"Our challenge right now is the Missouri Western pool. It's our students who are paying our tuition right now," Meyer said.

Many in the crowd took exception to that statement, saying as taxpayers, they should also have a stake in the pool.

"There would not be a sign of a building out here on this campus had there not been community support," said Rosemary Hoffman, a retired MWSU professor.

University statistics show an average of only seven students use the pool on a given day. Including outside groups that use the pool, including an arthritis swimming class, that number grows to 25.

"Some of the letters we have received talking about the health benefits that people haveve received from the pool are inspirational and heartwarming and they're very passionate," Meyer said. "We understand there is a need."

Some of those in the arthritis swimming class were in attendance at the meeting in support of keeping the pool open.

"I use muscles that I can't use without fear of falling in my own house," said Mary Maker.

"I can now walk, my body is stronger," said Marie Hren. "It's because of that excercise. I could very well be in a wheelchair."

To keep the pool open, Meyer said the university needs to spend around $1 million for repair work to the pool and locker rooms. She says they are soliciting potential donors.

"The facility is very corrosive right now and it's done an extreme amount of damage to the facility," said Lonnie Johnson, facilities director at MWSU.

Another problem at the pool is the university is having problems finding qualified lifeguards. The same problem has plagued city public swimming pools. Both Krug Park and Hyde Park pools will stay closed in St. Joseph this summer because of a lack of certified lifeguards.

"Kids are more into technology and things like that now, said Wanda Berry, MWSU Director of Recreation Services. "They kind of steer away from lifeguarding and that type of stuff."

Some at the meeting suggested one reason to keep the pool open is to differentiate MWSU from Northwest Missouri State University, which recently closed its on-campus pool.

"Our swimmers in Maryville, if they're trying to choose a hometown university, I guarantee you they're going to choose Missouri Western over Northwest because they can swim here. There's nowhere to swim up there," said Giule Coniglio, who drives ten students down from Maryville to swim at the MWSU pool.

Administrators say they will continue to look at their options.

Another forum is scheduled for September.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus