NCCC releases pool survey results

SARANAC LAKE – Local residents would like to see more programs offered at the North Country Community College pool at hours that are more convenient to them, according to a recent survey conducted by the college. NCCC pool

A total of 491 people took the online survey, which the college will use to help inform future decision-making about the pool.

“The community response to the survey was overwhelming,” said Dr. Steve Tyrell, NCCC President. “We’re grateful to the public for answering all the questions, and providing us with so many comments and suggestions about how to best operate and manage the pool going forward.”

Among the highlights of the survey, a large number of respondents (21 percent) said they haven’t used the college pool in the past year, while others (15 percent) said they use it several times a season or two to three times per week (11 percent). Another 21 percent haven’t used in the past year, but have used it historically.

When asked why they don’t use the pool, or use it as often as they’d like, nearly 40 percent said the hours are not practical while another 17 percent said they weren’t even aware the pool was open for community use. In write-in comments, some people said the condition of the locker rooms (outdated, lack of privacy) has kept them away.

Programs people are most interested in seeing at the pool include open and lap swimming, swim lessons, water aerobics and lifeguard training. Swim teams and scuba diving instruction were also suggested. Respondents said they’d be more likely to use the pool on weekday evenings, and throughout the day on weekends.

Ninety-three percent of respondents are willing to pay a fee to use the pool, which the college currently charges. Asked if they’d pay a higher fee if the money was used to hire a recreation director to publicize, market and coordinate programs for the pool, 42 percent said yes, 40 percent were not sure and 18 percent said no. Almost 80 percent of respondents said they would support the college seeking additional funding from its sponsoring counties to upgrade the pool.

A final question allowed respondents to provide any additional comments. Most used the opportunity to encourage the college to find ways to keep the pool open, while just a handful supported closing it.

The survey results and comments have been distributed to the college community. An engineering firm hired by the college recently outlined a draft master plan for the Saranac Lake campus that, among other projects, looked at the feasibility of either closing the pool and replacing it with needed fitness center and locker room space, or keeping the pool and expanding the athletic complex to provide for those additional uses.

“We’re still exploring how we could maintain the pool as a viable operation and potentially enhance it as a recreational asset to the college and the community,” stated Dr. Tyrell. “We will continue to work with community leaders and those with expertise in the field to address these important questions.”

Dr. Tyrell is meeting with community members and staff next week to review a proposed business plan for sustaining some form of a future aquatics program at NCCC.

“Determining that there is a viable way to sustain a revamped aquatics program is an important hurdle to get over,” Dr. Tyrell adds. “Then the capital investment needed to meet current and future needs in the Sparks Facility has to be addressed. The JMZ master plan report clearly identified the price tag required to do this right, now let’s see if we can all work together to make that capital investment happen.”