Editorial: Diving into change
Reduction in size of pool necessary for Hamel expansion
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The UNH Master Plan has been the point of contention for many students and residents of Durham in the past few weeks. A modified plan was presented in two more forums this past Tuesday. The modified plan addressed, in part, the concerns of those who were against the developments on UNH’s agricultural fields that were presented in the original plan.
Now, another issue has sprung up. Durham residents are unhappy with the possibility of an expansion to the Hamel Rec Center cutting out part of the adjacent outdoor pool.
Residents argued that the pool, built in 1938, has long been a part of Durham’s community, uniting residents in the summertime. The pool is a part of the town’s history, the residents contended.
At some point, however, a compromise has to be reached. The master plan has been opposed at every turn. But the expansion of the Hamel Rec Center is something that the university has long needed. And it’s clear that it can be done while keeping the outdoor pool intact.
Complaints of the rec center being undersized are nothing new. It was built in 1995 for a campus with less than 10,000 students. UNH currently enrolls nearly 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The student senate has proposed and passed countless resolutions urging the administration to expand the gym. They have fallen on mostly deaf ears.
Funding has been the main problem. But at the very least, the master plan is a real commitment to creating more recreational space for students. Overcrowding and Hamel have become synonymous. An expansion is long overdue.
The master plan represents a change to the Durham that many have come to know and love. Residents and students alike rallied against the proposed development north of Main Street, on the West Edge of campus.
The possible changes would have been a stain on what has historically been farmland and handicapped UNH’s agricultural programs. The history of Durham has to be respected. That has been one of the main themes at the forums over the past two weeks.
But however inconvenient, the university will continue to grow and some changes will be needed. For almost a decade, students have been packed into a recreation facility that is far too small.
The time has come for there to be concrete plans that ensure Hamel will be expanded to fit the population it serves. Keeping this expansion as part of the Campus Master Plan is the first step in that process.