President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced in his annual State of the University Address that the Pritchard Gymnasium Pool will be renovated and completed in spring 2016.
The renovation is expected to begin in October, as the New York State Department of Budget approved the bid amount for the renovation, according to Media Relations Officer Lauren Sheprow.
“It was really decrepit and needed to be repaired,” Stanley said at an Oct. 1 meeting with student media.
The facility, which was originally completed in 1966, closed for renovations in 2012.
Construction was expected to begin in fall 2012, according to an October 2011 newsletter from Vice President for Facilities and Services Barbara Chernow, but the critical maintenance money for all State University of New York campuses was cut.
The funds were cut significantly again in 2013, although Stony Brook was the only SUNY campus to restore some money to be used for projects such as power lines and chilling plants, Stanley said.
“We fought really hard to get the critical maintenance money restored, as did other SUNY campuses, and this year we had the money in the budget,” he said.
The project was originally expected to cost between eight and 10 million dollars, but will cost closer to $12.7 million, as discovered in the bidding process.
An anonymous donor stepped forward to pay the difference between what was budgeted for the renovation and the actual cost, Stanley said.
“Honestly I think we would have fought to find funds anyway, but I’m incredibly grateful for this donor because that means that things can go to other projects that are important,” Stanley said.
The lowest bidder for the project was Fortunato Sons Contracting, Inc. of Bohemia, N.Y., the contractor that conducted the Arena renovation project.
The renovation will include deepening the pool to increase safety for diving and the installation of a “moveable bottom,” an adjustable plastic platform that will be able to adjust the depth of the shallow end of the pool.
The depth could be increased for competition swimming and decreased for recreational and young swimmers, John Fogarty, director of capital planning for campus planning, design and construction, said in an email.
The pool will have a regulated temperature, wider swimming lanes, electronic lane timing systems for competition and new display panels for the scoreboard.
The three existing diving boards will be replaced, with the highest being three-meters, Fogarty said. Retractable bleachers will seat 200 spectators.
A new ventilation system will reduce humidity for spectator comfort.
“I think it’s going to be really cool when it’s done,” Stanley said. “It’s not going to look very much like the old pool did. It will be the old pool only in the sense that it’s in the same location essentially.”
Stanley said that he “felt terrible” for members of the university’s swimming and diving team, as well as members of the Stony Brook University community who used the pool before it closed.
He said he apologizes to seniors who will not see the new pool, and possibly to juniors who might not see the pool, adding, “I think around 2016 is when we’re looking to have the whole thing done.”
He said that there were discussions over the question of whether there would continue to competitive teams “in that area.”
“We actually never received any ‘official news,’” Allison Zelnick, a graduate student who was on the swimming and diving team, said in an email.
“When President Stanley said in his address that the pool would open in spring 2016, it was news for everyone as well as the athletic department. They said he pretty much dropped a bomb on them.”
“It was never my intention to take it out of service, but it was really, I would have to say, beyond my control as things happened the way they did,” Stanley said. “But we’re now back to the place we need to be.”