HAWKEYE P.O.V. – Time to change the natatorium

ULM Hawkeye

After much consideration, the editorial board has decided to endorse the Bayou Park plan for the natatorium renovations, but we do so with several reservations.

This whole process seemed rushed since the University is determined to meet the self-imposed Dec. 1 deadline to make a decision. So many plans have changed that this board feels the options have not been in place long enough for students to really consider which way they want to vote.

What the University should be doing is waiting until it receives final proposed plans from both sides complete with cost estimates. The plans should be displayed publicly for a length of time so that students can be truly knowledgeable about their options.

Cost estimates are supposed to be included on the ballot, but it is likely no students will actually know them until they are voting. Is this really ample time to fully consider such drastic changes one way or the other?

But we are apparently passed that point now, unless the breaks are suddenly thrown on between now and Wednesday. As such, we have to make the best decisions with what we have. What we know at this point is the Bayou Park option is the best direction for our university to take.

The Bayou Park option provides a great compromise to all. The outdoor pool and lazy river will allow for the leisure pools many students have called for. The plans presented at the meeting called for a heater, so the pools will be able to be used even with cooler weather. Note that it is November and we still have in 80-degree days.

The adjacent indoor pool will provide lap swimming for people interested in exercise. No it won’t be a full Olympic-sized pool, but it will be a pool to accommodate lap swimmers. This is a fair compromise to exercise swimmers.

There really is no reason the University couldn’t still partner with the YMCA even with the outdoor pool. The young people the YMCA is trying to reach could still greatly benefit by taking advantage of the outdoor pools.

We also feel the student recruitment to ULM would greatly benefit by having an attraction like the proposed Bayou Park project. A natatorium would not be as appealing as the outdoor pool option.

Students should also vote to renovate the natatorium and transform it into an event center. If people do not vote to turn the natatorium into an vent center, we could end up with not one, but two indoor pools.

Consider the irony for a second at what that would look like. The whole debate began over low pool usage, and now we may end up with two indoor pools on the same campus, a small one and the natatorium. So it only makes sense to vote to turn the natatorium into a functional building.

For whatever reason the plans presented to the public were different than the final version of these plans. We were very supportive of the idea of the café, movie theater, pool hall, etc. that the plans originally called for.

We are less supportive of using the building for event space, but we are directly opposed to having two indoor pools on campus.

The University should allow a transition period where the natatorium remains open after Dec. 9. The people who use the natatorium are very passionate about their pool, and change will be hard for them. They deserve the opportunity to continue to swim while they search for a new pool.

The Lake C. Oxford Natatorium has served its community well during its time. But it has reached the point now where it is so obsolete replacement parts are not even available.

Change is inevitable, and it’s time the building serves in a new way.