Volume 47, Number 15 - March 29, 2010

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Sergio Candido
Sergio Candido

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Picture of pool men
FINISHING UP: With the pool renovations reaching its final stage, it will put an end to a six-year—and more than $6 million—project. Photo by AJ Brunson/ Falcon Times Staff

Pool slated for summer 2010 reopening

By Sergio Candido

North Campus students may want to start buying new swim wear, not to hit the beach, but to take a dive into the newly-renovated aquatic center, expected to open this summer.

With renovations reaching its final stage, it will put an end to a six-year—and more than $6 million—project.

“This will be the first comprehensive water training center in South Florida,” said Cristina Mateo, North Campus’ dean of administration.

According to Mateo, students, faculty and staff with a Miami Dade College identification card will be able to use the facility.

Located on the north side of building four, the Aquatic and Fitness Center will feature two locker rooms, four classrooms, two pools and a state-of-the-art fitness training area with about 80 exercise machines.

“Students will be able to hook their MP3 players [to the equipment] and watch TV at the same time they exercise,” said Mateo about the elliptical cross-trainers and treadmills valued at around $6,000 each.

Mateo also said that the aquatic center will provide a variety of training venues for   fire rescue, law enforcement, and maritime agencies.

Michael McCann, program manager of the School of Fire and Environmental Sciences, said it will benefit students with real life scenario-based training activities.

“The extensive renovation of the North Campus’ aquatic center provides a myriad of emergency response and recovery opportunities for fire rescue personnel,” said McCann in a statement via e-mail. “The shallow pool allows for fire rescue personnel to learn and hone their skills in swimming, water rescue, and patient packaging for emergency transport. The addition of the three-dive platforms at various levels allow for dive rescuers to practice emergency entries from varying heights.”

McCann added that a submersible car prop will challenge dive rescuers. The device is used for a drill that simulates an underwater extrication using a dummy strapped in by a seat belt, and submerged in a 15-foot deep pool.

Built in 1978, the aquatic center was shutdown in the late 90’s because the pool broke, and the College didn’t have the funds to fix it.

It remained abandoned for years, at which point its water turned green, until the 2004-2005 school year, when representatives from the state took a tour of the campus and noticed the condition of the pool, according to an October 2008 Falcon Times’ article.

Through the Physical Education Capital Outlay, a state operated program that funds new facilities, the College was provided a categorical line of funding, which is funding allocated to an institution for a specific problem or purpose.

The project was expected to be finished in 2007, with an estimated budget of $4.5 million, but renovations were halted because of a lack of funding.

Construction resumed last year, with a final cost of $6,259,611 plus furniture and equipment, according to Mateo.

Mateo said that although it is expected to be finished by the summer, there are different situations “as in any construction or renovation” that may delay it for the fall.

“We want to try to finish it by the summer,” Mateo said.

Natacha St. Juste, a 26-year-old occupational therapy major, thinks the aquatic center will be an important asset to the College.

“It will benefit students like [me], who do not know how to swim,” St. Juste said.

Mateo said swimming classes may be offered for students in the future.

The aquatic center’s facelift adds to other recently completed or ongoing renovations at the North Campus like the advisement and career services office, the ceiling renovations in building one and the Lehman Theatre.

Falcon Times staff writer Alexandra de Armas contributed to this report.

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