Committee seeks bucks for JSC pool


Gunter Kleist

The JSC Pool

Is the JSC pool really closing?

Rumors have been rampant since a budget shortfall was announced last spring, including one that the pool would close at the end of September.

The pool will now remain open through the fall semester, but beyond that, its future is uncertain.

The issue is money, and the pool takes lots of it. Most pressing is the need to replace its aging Zephyr system that controls air humidity and heats the water.

The system has outlived its expected life span of 25 years and replacement costs are estimated at being anywhere between $250,000 and $400,000.

Responding to concerns from within the college and from the wider community, JSC has convened a 10-person pool committee, comprised of faculty, staff, students and community members. It is trying to find sources of funding to replace the Zephyr.
According to Dean of Students Dave Bergh, the head of the committee, the group is exploring several options, including grants from outside agencies, increasing membership fees, and accepting donations.

Another option is the Vermont State Colleges’ Green Fund, established for investments in energy efficiency within the VSC system, which Bergh said is a “great candidate.”

According to Bergh, Johnson already spends about $60,000-$70,000 annually in repairs on the pool, on top of the $80,000 it costs per year just to run it.

On the bright side, if the dehumidifying system is replaced, the new model would be more energy efficient and save around $20,000 per year.

The pool hosts swim lessons, physical therapy, senior and adult swim classes, water aerobics, general lap use, and is also used in some Outdoor Education classes.

Bergh noted that because there are no other pools open to the public in this immediate area, the closing of the college’s pool would have repercussions beyond the campus.

“This is a resource worth preserving,” Bergh said, noting that its closing “would have a detrimental effect on our relationship with the community.”

The committee has found that community members, rather than members of the JSC faculty, staff or student body, are the primary users of the pool.

For Director of Athletics Jamey Ventura, a committee member, an important aspect of keeping the pool open is to increase student, faculty, and staff use.

“We’d like to see more usage of the pool by our JSC community,” said Ventura. Towards that end, there will be a pool open house on Saturday, Nov. 15, with hopes of building support for the pool.

In the meantime, the pool committee has taken the initial steps towards working with an engineer to figure out exactly what replacing the Zephyr system will cost.

Once the engineering study is complete, the committee will have firmer target figures for fund raising.