By Ken Johnson, Staff Writer
Despite setbacks, the renovations to the University of New Hampshire outdoor pool and the Hamel Recreation Center are moving forward. The opening of the new UNH outdoor pool has been moved from the 2015 season to the 2016 season.
“It sounds like a big — and it is — a big impact to go from opening in summer of ‘15 to opening in summer of ‘16,” said Stacey Hall, director of campus recreation. The outdoor pool is only open for roughly 60 to 70 days out of a year, Hall said. If the pool isn’t open during that time then the pool ends up being closed for the whole year, Hall explained.
“The university recently received a geotechnical report on the soil conditions in the area of the future outdoor pool that found a large portion of the site has very poor soil for construction,” Erika Mantz, UNH director of public relations, said in a released statement.
“According to the consultant, subsurface conditions encountered were highly variable and ranged from shallow bedrock in the east part of the pool to deep, soft clay at the west side of the pool,” said Paul Chamberlin, associate vice president of facilities.
Borings were made in the soil for both the locations of the new outdoor pool and the Hamel Recreation Center, Hall said.
“Ground improvement is recommended to reduce post-construction settlement to tolerable amounts,” Chamberlin said. “To address the soft clay, a layer of fill will be placed over the western half of the pool site to compact the clay. It takes time to literally squeeze the water out of the clay.”
Hall explained that heavy material will be placed on top of the soil, which will compress the water from the soil. The poor soil conditions will add two to three months to the construction time for the pool, Mantz said.
A detailed design of the current plans for the new outdoor pool were revealed on July 1, 2014 at the Outdoor Pool Public Forum held in the Piscataqua Room of Holloway Commons at UNH. The current design will be a 15,490 square foot pool with a zero depth entry area, teaching area, multi-purpose area, lap swimming area and diving area. There will also be 16,000 square feet of social area with the new design.
The design still has to be approved by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. There will be modifications to the current plans due to feedback received and probable financial constraints, Hall said.
“For both facilities, there’s so many needs and interests by not only our students but our larger community that we are going to try to incorporate as many of elements that people are seeking, but for both facilities we are not going to be able to incorporate everything,” Hall said.
“NHDES must approve the final design of the pool which is expected to be complete late this fall,” Chamberlin said. “Informally, DES has advised that we should anticipate one to three months for them to complete their review.”
The outdoor pool is now in the design development stage, which is the detail work like the color of the bottom of the pool and how traffic flow should go, Hall said.
“We remain committed to the mid-size pool option, the important design elements like zero entry and swim lanes, and the agreed upon location,” Mantz said in a statement.
Once decisions had been made on the outdoor pool design and location, a new schematic design was made for the renovations to the Hamel Recreation Center, Hall said. The building will continue outward in the current direction toward the road making the building a longer rectangle. The schematic design was finished in July.
The Hamel Recreation Center has entered into the design development phase, which will last about five to six months, Hall said. Space for cardio and resistance machines, weights and functional fitness — stretching and other exercises — are the largest current need. A larger multi-activity court to replace the existing two small ones is also needed for the redesign, Hall said.
The hope is to do as much construction work over summer and January-term breaks due to less students on campus. “We can get more work done with less disruption to their activities,” Hall said.
The Hamel Recreation Center will remain open during construction, Hall said.