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Outdoor pool, Hamel Rec Center renovation plans meet setbacks

By Katie Beauregard, Contributing Writer

The Hamel Recreation Center expansion and new outdoor pool plans met a barrier recently due to setback discussions on the table.

The University System of New Hampshire (USNH) was set in motion to spend $85 million on four different plans for in-state colleges and universities—two of which included University of New Hampshire projects.  But over the past week, these plans were tabled. On Thursday, the Joint Capital Budget Committee will issue another approval in Concord.

“The request is for the university to get an approval by the state,” said Director of Hamel Recreation, Stacey Hall. “The pool is scheduled to be opened by the end of summer 2016, and the gym expansion should be finished by the fall of 2016.”

Representative Gene Chandler, the chairman of the Capital Budget Overview Committee, was a supporter of reconsidering this expansion and renovation.

“The [UNH] tuition is very high right now, and is going to get even higher,” said Chandler in regards to the expansions.

A new outdoor pool and expanded gym facility will lead to a rise in UNH tuition. At this point, the numbers will be deliberated more in the upcoming meeting.

Chandler discussed how tuition would be raised a few thousand dollars, a worrisome thought for him: UNH has the highest in-state tuition in the country. Tuition hovers just below $40,000 annually for out-of-state students.

“There are some of us that are trying to look out for the students,” Chandler said.

And although he may not agree with the expansions and renovations, Chandler discussed how the Joint Capital Budget Committee will most likely approve the project.

With the outdoor pool demolition already complete, Durham and UNH should look to see a possible approval on Thursday.

With questions and concerns about the tabling of these projects, many are waiting until Thursday’s meeting for more answers.

“I am hopeful that my presence will show support for the University System of New Hampshire, the UNH campus, and town of Durham,” said Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig. He plans to attend the meeting.

After Selig returns from Concord, Durham and UNH will be able to make final decisions on the Hamel Recreation Center project and the outdoor pool project.

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