"There was definitely an atmosphere of the decision has already been made, Missouri Western is closing their pool. I can definitely say that decision has not been made," stated Shana Meyer, Vice President for Student Affairs at Missouri Western State University.
Meyer says the university is considering either renovating the pool or replacing it with a multi-use recreation space. The university says for $150,000 the campus can fill in the pool and create a space used for classrooms and by the community.
The indoor pool has six lanes. The bottom of the pool has what appears to be damage that the university says simply can't be fixed. The campus released a pool fact sheet Thursday saying the swimming pool needs to be replaced and to do so would cost $600,000. The pool was built in 1971.
"There's been some deferred maintenance and there's been some ongoing issues and that spurred an entire discussion about what will we do with this pool," added Meyer.
Still, those in the community who use the pool say it's the only one of its kind in the area. They say if it does close, they won't have a place to go and swim whether it be for leisure, therapy or competition.
"The water is where people go when they first try to rehabilitate or they're just easing into exercise because it's gentle," said Mary Frazier, a certified lifeguard and aquatics instructor who enjoys spending time in the pool.
The university says it costs nearly $100,000 a year to keep the pool open. They are having trouble hiring life guards and the pool is losing water by the second. The university says the pool currently loses five gallons of water every 45 seconds.
"It's only when the threat comes out that they realize wait, this is a facility that I value," added Meyer.
Those in the community who use the pool on a regular basis see it as a place of healing. They say the pool is a great way to exercise, reduce stress and works great for those in therapy. Since it's the only pool they can use that is big enough and open to them, they hope it remains open.
"I'm selfish that I want this pool to stay open but I'm not selfish for myself, I'm selfish for my community. I'm selfish for the toddler who wants to learn how to swim, the 8-year-old who wants to compete in a swim team and the elderly person who needs the arthritis class. That's it, we need this pool. We need the community to come in and help the university," added Frazier.
The university says they will seek funding elsewhere for the pool before making a final decision on whether or not to close the pool for good. They say on average only seven people use the pool a day. The pool is open to university students, faculty, staff, alumni and their guests with memberships.