In a classroom directly across the hallway from Lebanon Valley College’s Wellness Pool in the Arnold Sports Center, more than 50 people convened to provide feedback on the school’s plan to close the pool.
Over the course of the 40-minute meeting, community members, staff, and students voiced concerns that the closure of the pool would have a negative effect on the older and younger members of the community.
Attendees voiced concerns over the pool’s closure, citing dependence on the pool to fulfill exercise and physical therapy needs. The Wellness Pool is warmer and features a “zero-entry” access, making it easier and safer for those with limitations.
The Wellness Pool is also used to host swimming lessons.
In attendance to provide clarity into the decision making process were some of the school’s top brass, including President Dr. Lewis Evitts Thayne, Vice President of Finance & Administration Shawn Curtain, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Green.
The space currently occupied by the Wellness Pool will be a part of a new speech-language pathology facility. Officials mentioned that there isn’t a facility like this in the area, and that if such a facility existed it would be able to help many members of the community, from young children with speech problems to adults trying to relearn how to speak following a stroke.
According to school officials, for the program to become accredited, it must have at least 10,000SF of contiguous space.
The space in question was recently visited by the accrediting agency and received high marks.
Due to limited building space, the school maintained that it was the only option, as they have no plans to purchase more land, build more buildings, or expand the campus in general.
Some who oppose the decision were curious why space for the speech-language pathology program was not allocated in the recently completed Arnold Health Professions Pavilion, which sits directly across the parking lot from the Arnold Sports Center.
School officials said that this was because the plans for the building were finalized before plans for the speech-language pathology facility were set in motion, adding that there is further space available in the Arnold Health Professions Pavilion.
Dr. Thayne reiterated several times that the decision to remove the pool was not “a decision of ease,” stressing that the school’s priority was serving the best interest of its students.
He also indicated that while the Wellness Pool will be removed, the school would have interest in contributing to a project that would offer similar benefits as the Wellness Pool, should it come about.
“I can say with absolute certainty, the benefits and number of people who use a wellness pool in Lebanon County is quite large,” said Dr. Thayne, “and if there was a county-wide plan for such a facility, we would certainly be contributors to it.”