The future of the NCCC pool

As director of Cloudsplitter Foundation and a local mom to a very busy 7-year-old, I write this letter in response to the recent article regarding the future of the North Country Community College community pool.

In 2016, Cloudsplitter was approached by NCCC Foundation with a request to help support its efforts to install a pool lift. This felt like a great fit with our mission as a foundation to help make life easier, healthier and more rewarding for the people that live here in the Adirondacks. Recognizing that recreational opportunities such as Red Cross swim lessons and lifeguarding courses, along with NCCC student course work for the wilderness recreation program being dependent on the pool being in federal compliance and accessible for all, Cloudsplitter Foundation felt awarding a grant was a priority. The lift allows the college’s pool to be a resource for all area residents, including those with disabilities and physical limitations. Cloudsplitter was so pleased with the opportunity to partner on a project of such meaningful importance.

If there is an extracurricular activity available locally, my daughter is choosing to try it out. On any given day, she can be spotted in ballet slippers, hiking boots or sporting cleats, on a skateboard, at the Pendragon Theatre stage or in the NCCC swimming pool. Even on the days when I feel like a taxi service, I am most grateful for the opportunities available in our region. Learning the possible fate of the NCCC pool is alarming to me.

NCCC has the only public pool available in Saranac Lake and serves residents of all ages. More recently, the pool has been a gathering place for local children. In partnership with Saranac Lake Central School community schools, Adirondack Health sponsors a family swim night one Friday evening per month. The event is offered at no cost and includes a fresh fruit snack to help promote fitness and healthy eating for families. It has been very well received by the community and well attended. Closing the pool and removing opportunities such as this, along with swimming lessons and necessary classes for college students, would be a detriment to our community.

I am not entirely surprised to hear that lack of usage is a major reason for consideration in this matter. The current pool hours are not realistic for many residents. As posted on the NCCC website, the latest the pool is open for public use is 6 p.m., with most days being 5:30 p.m. or sooner. Unfortunately for working families, this is simply not feasible. I suspect that it may be cost-prohibitive for many families to access the pool as well.

There seems to be a consensus around town that activities and organizations could be better advertised. Perhaps collaboration among them by creating a communal calendar would be an effective way to keep families in the know. Months ago, there was a community input session regarding the addition of a YMCA in Saranac Lake. The prospect of this is very exciting to me and many others. If the intention of the Y is to be a part of the community, and they were notified by NCCC of this situation. It seems there is potential there, too, for a really great partnership that could help both organizations thrive.

I believe NCCC can find ways to continue having the pool available and accessible. The impact is broad, and so is the potential. Hope to see you at the pool!

Chenelle Palyswiat lives in Saranac Lake.