Winter winds may blow some high school athletes off the football field and onto the basketball court, but a group of Lake Highlands High School students would rather just keep on swimming.
During warm weather, swimmers and divers work out at the Lake Highlands North Rec Pool on the southeast corner of Rock Trail and Church Road, just across the street from the high school. But once chilly breezes blow in, the 35 to 40 team members must get up early and ride a bus to 6 a.m. practice at Berkner High School’s indoor pool.
A group of concerned parents and aquatics team boosters hope to change all that. They have formed a committee to lobby the City and the RISD to heat and cover the pool. The “Just Dome It” project was launched following a September meeting with city officials.
“What I’d like to see is a natatorium adequate to serve the needs of the Lake Highlands school as a practice facility,” says committee co-chairman Gary Nash, whose son is a swimmer.
The group envisions a two-phase project. First, the school district would pay to heat the pool and possibly erect a temporary dome. Later, Nash hopes to convince the City to call a bond election to fund construction of a permanent enclosure.
Kirk London, RISD’s assistant superintendent for the Lake Highlands/Berkner area, says he has met with City officials and is gathering information to present to the school board about the feasibility of the committee’s idea. He is researching energy costs, insurance requirements, lease agreements and other details. A temporary cover could cost between $150,000 and $250,000 and might require a school district bond issue.
“[The school board] would love to do it if it’s feasible, but we also have to be careful with the taxpayers’ money,” London says.
The pool is pushing 30 and is in need of some repairs. Committee member Sharin Clark hopes the dome will become part of a planned renovation project. She envisions a year-round facility with water aerobics classes for senior citizens, among other activities.
“I just think it would be great for the neighborhood,” Clark says.