Parts of pool could be cut
Master plan would expand the adjacent rec center
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Douglas Bencks must be tired of discussing UNH’s Campus Master Plan.
The university architect and director of campus planning was part of a team that held two more forums Tuesday following two other forums the previous week.
The Tuesday evening forum was held in the Huddleston Ballroom specifically for town residents, while the afternoon session was held in the Granite State Room of the MUB and attracted a mix of students, faculty, residents, and alumni.
And just like the previous week, attendants were very vocal and passionate.
This time, though, their attention moved from concerns about land development north of Main Street to a part of the plan that would potentially cut part of the outdoor pool to make room for an extension of the adjacent Hamel Recreation Center.
“I learned to swim there, and now I am on the swim team, and I hope that my younger sister can do the same,” elementary school student Zoey Pavlik said. “We go there everyday in the summer, and summers would never be the same without it.”
The pool was constructed in 1938 as part of the Works Project Administration, and has a long history of uniting the community through swim lessons, summer camps and family time, residents said.
Administration assured the crowd that the pool would not be removed, but that it might undergo a size reduction and some other changes in order to accommodate recreation expansion and construction.
Paul Chamberlain, assistant vice president for energy and campus development, said that he understands how important the relationship between the university and the town is, and that the plan has been changed in reaction to the input received last week.
“We anticipate the plan continuing to evolve,” Chamberlain said.
Bencks explained that he, too, frequently utilized the pool with his children, and that he believes there is a way to continue having a wonderful community asset that still allows for expansion.
“I accept your skepticism,” Bencks said. “But I truly believe it could be designed in an appropriate way.”
Residents were not very accepting, however.
“The pool is the one thing that townspeople use on the UNH campus,” resident Carol Glover said, explaining that cutting the pool in half would destroy the shallow area that so many children have learned to swim in. “Even if you could maintain the depth proportions, people would still be swimming next to the foundation of a large building.”
According to resident Diana Carroll, there is also a historical aspect to consider.
“Not all historic things come in the form of buildings; some come in the form of pools,” she said. “If we truly respect history, we will not change the pool.”
Topics addressed the previous week were also brought up once again, including the building of a new center for the arts and of additional undergraduate and graduate housing.
Many citizens asked if recreation centers could be added to dorms or other existing buildings.
Bencks said that the university felt that it would be inappropriate to do so, and that students should have one main fitness facility.
“[A] centralized facility would work better,” Bencks said at the afternoon session.
The familiar concerns of retail and public private ventures, as well as the relocation of the equine facilities, also resurfaced. Residents commented that they were supportive of a new center for the arts, near the downtown area, but opposed any retail development on campus.
“I couldn’t find limited retail development in the core values of the university,” Carroll said. “It belongs downtown.”
At the afternoon session, attendants lined up at the microphone to share questions and comments.
Sarah Hamilton, director of the equine program, attended the afternoon session to readdress concerns about relocation of the equine facilities. She said that the art faculty was involved with consideration about the relocation of the arts center, but that the equine faculty has not been involved with their possible relocation.
Hamilton felt that this is because the agriculture and the equine programs are “not viewed as cutting edge or exciting or sexy [like art is].”
“When are those concerns [about relocation] going to be addressed?” she asked, adding that the space where the equine facilities could be relocated to is insufficient to the program’s needs.