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Lansing HS Pool

After a year and a half of repairs, delays, and closure, the Lansing High School swimming pool is now open.  The Girls varsity Swim Team began practicing in the pool Monday, and school district officials have big plans for making up for lost time. 

"It's very exciting," said Lansing CSD Superintendent Chris Pettograsso.  "It looks great.  There are some little things they have to finish up.  One of the biggest changes is the air quality, because the UV system kills the bacteria so you don't have to use as much chlorine.  So there is a huge difference in the air quality."

The pool was closed for reconstruction in 2013, then reopened.  In 2016 school officials decided to add some upgrades to the pool, to be included in what they called the SMART (Security, Mechanical, Architecture, Reconstruction, Technology) capital project.  But by winter it was apparent that there were serious problems with the pool.  Experts began what school officials called a 'forensic investigation' that found that tile installed in 2013 was 'tenting'.  In other words, tiles were not adhering to the bottom of the pool.

Construction had to wait until scheduled installation of a pool cover and an energy saving mechanism that required the pool to be full while being installed.  That pushed the analysis of the tile issue to summer.  As experts tried to understand why the tile was coming up, they also found problems with the plumbing and pool drains.

"We found out that in the original removal of the previous tile they didn't get all the layers, so it wasn't adhering," explains Pettograsso.  "We did more investigation and we found that some of our pipes were leaking.  That's when we decided this is bigger than what we thought the original problem was.  the time you do things like that is when it's all taken apart, so you investigate further.  We found the pipes needed repair, and some of the joint -- they needed to be taken out and fully replaced.  So we decided to go fully in and repair everything this time around.  We had to take out much of the pool deck, so that also needed to be replaced and re-tiled."

Lansing HS PoolNew starting blocks and diving boards line one end of the pool (left). Black tile lines mounted on the marcite pool bottom help swimmers see which lanes they are swimming in.

During the year and a half the pool was closed, the boys and girls varsity swim teams were forced to practice at alternate locations, and lost their home team advantage, though it didn't seem to impact their usual top scores.  Private donations helped fund the additional cost of nearby pools and transportation.  Construction was completed, and the first swimmers entered the pool Monday.

"The Health Department officially cleared it August 3rd," School Business Administrator Kathryn Heath said Monday.  "The swim program started today for the Girls Varsity Swim team."

When the team came to practice Monday,  a UV system that reduces the amount of chlorine needed to kill bacteria was installed, and a pool cover added.  New starting blocks and diving boards were installed, and a new sound system will be added for announcing meets.  All the plumbing has been repaired, as well as the pool deck.  The pool has been refinished with marcite, a kind of plaster used in pools that had been used before the tile was installed.  Black tile lines were placed along the bottom of the marcite pool to help denote the lanes.

"Before we tiled the entire pool it was marcite," Pettograsso says.  "Then they decided to use tile because it helps with the clarity of the lanes for swimmers.  But it's significantly more expensive and tends to have more issues, so we decided to go with marcite, but to put black tiles down to denote the lanes.  The marcite worked for us for many years.  It looks great in there now."

Pettograsso is anxious to make up for lost time by scheduling pool use aggressively.  Students who missed the swimming unit in their Physical Education classes during the year and a half when the pool was closed will be scheduled to make those sessions up.  She has also been talking to Lansing Town Recreation Director Steve Colt about expanding community swim times that open the pool to Lansing residents when the pool is free of school activities.

"Typically we have Saturday community swim," she says.  "We're talking about whether it's possible to have Sunday afternoon and evening swim.  We're talking about whether it's possible to increase Saturday swim time for more community.  It's just the girls swim program that is in session right now, so we're trying to see whatever blocks we have available to fill it for the community and for swim lessons for any of our younger students that may have missed them."

While the capital project paid for much of the project, school officials had to draw from emergency funds to complete the unexpected repairs.

"That's why we have our capital reserves to take care of some of these projects," Pettograsso says.  "Some of it was from our last capital project, so we were able to manipulate our funding without having to increase our taxes looking for more finances."

Of the total cost of approximately $600,000, $200,000 was covered by the SMART capital project for the UV disinfectant system, filtering and some plumbing upgrades.  Heath says that the final tally isn't in because, while the pool is now open, some incidental items have yet to be completed.

"It is also important to note that some of these costs have been offset by savings garnered by not having the pool open, including energy savings from not heating the pool, water, etc.," heath adds. "While we had the pool and deck torn apart, we also took the opportunity to install some much needed upgrades including new diving boards, starting blocks, and benches for the students and athletes."

New Lansinh ScoreboardThis new digital scoreboard at Sobus Field is one of two that were installed this summer

At the same time a new scoreboard, donated by the CDC, and sound system were installed at Sobus field.  Another scoreboard was erected at the varsity baseball field.  The scoreboards are digital, LED-technology.

"They're much more efficient," Pettograsso says.  "It wasn't just about replacement.  They were all significantly old and not efficient any more.  They were replacing bulbs quite a bit and doing a lot of repair.  The boards are on the wireless network.  We just have to make sure they're on different channels.  We had a game the other day and two boards were in use.  All of a sudden scores were changing.  At least we figured it out this summer!"

The Girls varsity swim season begins September 9th at an away meet against Whitney Point.

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