By Alyssa Sperrazza
EL RENO – The deadline is approaching for those working to save the indoor swimming pool at Redlands Community College.
The pool was in need of repairs which the college estimated would cost thousands of dollars. It was closed effectively at the end of June.
RCC spokeswoman Dayna Rowe said the math was simple: not enough people were using the pool to justify the costs of repair.
“When we looked at it, at one point less than half of a percent of the population of El Reno used the pool,” Rowe said. “And very few of those [using it] were students. So with that cost, we took that into consideration and decided it was something we needed to close.”
Rowe said that maintaining lifeguards was another issue that contributed to the pool closing.
“It was difficult to find lifeguards that would be available and to be able to keep it open at those times,” Rowe said.
Rowe said El Reno resident Marvin Smith reached out to them, suggesting a fundraiser in order to keep the pool open. It was agreed upon that Smith and volunteers would need to raise $100,000 by Aug. 31 in order for the pool to reopen and have the necessary repairs made.
Part of the money raised would also go towards paying lifeguards, noted as an operational expense.
Smith said he was asked to help save the pool and has been working to raise the money as a contribution to the community.
“The pool will be important to everybody,” Smith said. “It’s a facility that children and adults can go to cause it’s got an automated chair lift that can get people in and out of the pool that aren’t able to do that. And where else can they go to get water therapy?”
Smith said he also hopes for swim teams to practice there should the fundraiser meet its goal.
Rowe said as of Friday, Aug. 17, the fundraiser had collected a total of $1,200. Smith isn’t concerned with the number though.
“We’re starting to have this week what I call a ‘money blitz,’” Smith said. “We just need more volunteers to hand out flyers. I’ve also been talking to superintendents, to doctors, lawyers, businessmen, anybody with the authority….mayors from various cities. And I’ve talked to at least 20 doctors and chiropractors in the last three months that strongly encourage the pool to be open.”
If the fundraising goal is not met by the deadline, the pool will remain closed permanently. RCC officials have not determined how they will make use of the space.
RCC is working with Smith as the donations come in.
“When a donation is made it comes through the Redlands Community College Foundation,” Rowe said.
Smith said he hopes the goal will be reached and that he sees this as his way to give back to his community.
“We’re gonna work as hard as we can to get it done,” Smith said. “The next two weeks are very important.”