Plan for infilling Keystone Hall pool invokes opposition

By Rachel Lawes

poolKU’s “Campus Master Plan” involves filling in the diving well located in Keystone Hall, which has upset several members of the athletic department, particularly the KU Swim Team.

The most recent update to the plan suggests infilling the diving well at the natatorium in Keystone to make space for women’s lacrosse and field hockey locker rooms.

The planners proposed to fill the diving well because it is no longer being used for diving. However, KU swim coach Tim Flannery explained that it the pool is used regularly for other legitimate reasons. The team utilizes the well for strength exercises, warm-downs and other important ways to prepare for competition.

“We use the diving well every day in our practices and workouts,” Flannery said.

He said that many other sports teams also value the well. Anecia Alexaki, a freshman pole-vaulter, explained how the track and field team benefits from the pool.

“We use it to run in the water and as a way to relieve our joints,” she said.

In addition, Flannery said that the sports medicine faculty has athletes use the well for injury rehab.

The pool also serves for educational purposes such as aquatics and lifeguarding classes. Outside organizations, like the Tri Valley YMCA swim team, also make use of the diving well during its practices.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education requires that the university develop a master plan every 10 years. The plan oversees 25 years of the campus’s physical development.

According to Assistant Vice President of Facilities, Jeff Grimm, PASSHE currently prohibits adding new space while enrollment is dropping. Therefore, no major additions to the university can be made at this time.

“The diving well, in this version of the master plan, had to be filled in order to be able to encompass all the other very basic needs that were identified to the master planning consultants,” Grimm said.

Grimm also explained that this project may not happen. Since the master plan is more of a high-level planning document than an actual design indicator and many of its objectives are subject to change.

As of now, the Keystone building is on the capital budget submission request to PASSHE. The entire renovation of Keystone, as outlined in the master plan, depends first on if Risley Hall is reformed for wrestling and football.

Ultimately, the master planning consultants must construct the proposal with the best guesses they can make now, rather than base it off of future possibilities.

Grimm concluded by explaining how difficult it is to understand the reasons and rationale for decisions being made for one particular piece of the master plan.

“It is like a giant set of dominoes,” Grim said. “Knock one over and you start a succession of changes based upon that one item.”

There is no strict time line for when or if a decision will be made. However, the swim team remains opposed.

“It would be a complete travesty if it does get filled,” Flannery said.

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