Diving Into Next Big Project: Filling in the Pool at the Aquatics Center
By Jessica Barfield
In May of 1989, the pools at Oklahoma City Community College were beginning to be filled with more than one million gallons of water combined.
Diving platforms were installed in OCCC’s Aquatic Center in preparation for the U.S. Olympic Festival kick off.
Nearly 25 years later in 2015, the doors to the OCCC pools were officially closed.
Based on an assessment performed on the pool in 2013 by aquatic planning and design company Counsilman Hunsaker, annual maintenance was reaching nearly $300,000 while repair costs were estimated at around $6 million.
And according to a Pioneer story on the date the closure was announced, April 15, 2015, the school was worried that without the necessary funds, it would only be a matter of time before conditions would worsen, causing catastrophic damage that would either be irreparable or only increase financial demand.
The pool will be filled in soon and the floorspace dedicated to another project.
Greg Gardner, Vice President of Operations at Oklahoma Community College, has worked on campus for 14 years and has witnessed multiple proposals and options thrown around about the potential future of the Aquatic Center, with the ultimate decision being made to have the pool filled in.
“For the upcoming year, which starts July 1st, what we presented was a list of over $11 to 12 million dollars’ worth of work that is planned. That will be one project,” Gardner told the Pioneer.
“And we can’t tell you when it’s going to be filled in because what we will have to do now is actually identify the work scope, that will go out to bid to contractors, then we will bring that back, and then the Board of Regents have to give the final approval for the completion of that project. So, it could be in the fall when that work begins, and I think that’s probably the earliest case for beginning that work.”
Many students were not aware we had a pool on campus, but upon hearing the news it piqued curiosity as to how the space will be utilized following the fill-in.
Physical therapy major and OCCC freshman, Guadalupe Martinez said she was unaware.
“I didn’t know about it; most people on campus maybe didn’t know about it either,” she said. “But maybe sports or events they could use it for. They don’t have any teams, maybe they should put sports in there that people would be interested in.”
Gardner explained that because space was redone for the health professions department, it took away from the school’s previous union space. When brought to his attention that students would be interested in more recreation and fitness opportunities.
“You’ll notice that recreation and fitness right now, the gym and exercise facility those are in close proximity to the general dining area. Which is another project we will be redoing the look of the general dining area, actually very soon,” Gardner said.
“And if we could move part of that into the aquatic center, then that frees up space more closely associated with the dining area. But again, those plans are all still being talked about and looked at.”
The decision to fill-in the pool will start the step-by-step process that could take up two or more years to finalize. Oklahoma City Community College’s new President Dr. Mautra Staley Jones will also take part in identifying the direction she would like to go with the options presented and approved by the Board of Regents.
“I’m looking forward to it! I’ve wanted to fill the pool in for a while so it’s getting there,” Gardner said.