NCCC considers closing its pool

The North Country Community College pool is seen in April. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

SARANAC LAKE — North Country Community College is considering closing the pool at its Saranac Lake campus.

Meanwhile, YMCA staff have said that would not change their plans to bring their community programs to the village, except that it would cut out their aquatics programming.

“It does not impact our decision at all,” Michelle Schumacher, executive director of the Malone branch of the YMCA, said of its plans to bring programs to Saranac Lake. “We wouldn’t be able to offer aquatics programming.”

NCCC officials have not made a decision as to whether to close the pool yet and are looking for community input.

“We recognize this is an important issue for the college and local residents, and we will not make a decision without getting the input of all stakeholders,” NCCC President Steve Tyrell wrote in a press release. “We know there will be strong and passionate arguments made on both sides of the issue.”

The 41-year-old pool costs the college more than $50,000 annually to operate and maintain. Necessary repairs to the pool, including pumps, motors and equipment would cost the college $100,000, according to a press release. This cost, along with a lack of usage, are the main factors in the pool’s closing.

Students reportedly do not use the pool often. It’s not open to the public for long during the day because few swimmers come around and the college has a hard time finding lifeguards to watch them.

In March, NCCC received a $1.1 million grant from the state Dormitory Authority to upgrade its science labs and fitness center. Architects hired by the college suggested the pool space could be renovated into a fitness center with locker rooms and a dance and fitness studio space. These additions could be used to add a new athletic team at the college.

However, the NCCC pool is the only pool available for community use in the village. It is currently used by the Red Cross for swimming lessons and open swim periods. Public use requires a daily fee or a paid membership.

If it stayed, the YMCA could offer swimming lessons and water sports out of the facility.

Closing the pool would also affect students in NCCC’s Wilderness Recreation Leadership program at, which requires they take a lifeguarding class. If the pool closes, these students would have to venture outside of the village to fulfill that degree requirement.

According to the press release, the college is currently collecting historical data on the pool’s usage and cost. Recent meetings of the college Senate have discussed the issue. Additionally, the college plans to disseminate a recreational facility needs survey to students, staff and local residents soon. The results will be shared publicly.

“When the process of gathering all the necessary feedback and information is complete, we hope we can make a decision that is in the best interest of the college and the community,” Tyrell wrote.