Carolyn Hermann Student Union will be converted into a swimming pool for the 2015-2016 school year.
Mercyhurst officials have announced that due to the unsalvageable conditions left by a broken water pipe that flooded the student union on Feb. 21, the lower level area will be transformed into swimming pool for students’ recreational use and sporting events.
Joan Bennet, a representative of the Mercyhurst Public Information Department, released a statement which said that repairing the Student Union and bringing it back to its original state would be too costly for the university. As an alternative, the administration decided to turn the Union into a swimming pool and move the Laker Inn dining service onto the second floor.
“We spoke with insurance and we contacted various contractors about the issue,” said Bennet. “It was all bad news. The damages were in the millions and the time to repair it would take too long. We had no choice but to eliminate the idea of ever again restoring the Student Union to its original state.”
Ann Rutherford, a civil engineer from the Garbo Construction Co. of Erie, was the first to propose the idea of building a swimming pool instead of trying to repair the Laker Inn to its pre-flood state. Rutherford, who has prior experience in building pools, assessed the damages done to the lower level of the union and concluded that building a swimming pool would be a very viable option.
“In my 20 years as an engineer I have never seen something like this. The moment I saw the flooded building, I knew there was not a lot of potential to save the building. The Student Union was a swimming pool waiting to happen,” Rutherford said.
The administration was reluctant to invest in a swimming pool. However, once Rutherford showed the cost of building one instead of repairing the union, they agreed to advance with the construction.
“Of course, when I proposed this idea they thought I was joking, but after showing the empirical information and the numbers that supported my claim, the Mercyhurst officials started taking my suggestion seriously,” Rutherford said.
Without many other options available, the Mercyhurst administration took the swimming pool option into serious consideration and eventually decided it was the best option for the Mercyhurst community.
“I know it sounds crazy, but we believe this is the best option at hand. The Laker Inn will survive, when we move it to the second floor, so students will still have their food, but now they also have another source of recreation,” Bennet said.
A group that will specially benefit will be the Mercyhurst water polo team who will now be able to stay and practice at Mercyhurst Main campus instead of driving to the North East Campus to practice. The Archaeology Department hopes to practice underwater digs in the pool.
“The possibilities for its use are endless. New RSCOs will surge and various new student activities will be organized now that we have a swimming pool,” Bennet said.
Junior Communications major Ryan Deadpool, believes this is the best thing to happen to Mercyhurst in a long time. In high school, Deadpool spent a lot of his time swimming both competitively and for recreation. Since coming to Mercyhurst he had to stop, because he no longer had a pool in close proximity and could not continue. He said that he hopes that the new pool will help him rediscover his old passion.
“They used to call me the Ryan the Merman back in high school, because of how much time I would spend swimming. I am planning to recover that name,” said Deadpool. “This pool was the missing link for Mercyhurst. I feel like our school is now complete.”
Senior General Studies major April Fool couldn’t believe that the pool was being installed.
“You must be kidding me,” Fool said.