Depression-Era Pool At Center Of UNH, Durham Debate

Jul 22, 2013

At the heart of a heated debate between UNH and Durham residents is a swimming pool.  During the Great Depression, the pool was built over a popular pond as part of the New Deal.  Now, the university is pushing to upgrade its facilities and downsize the pool.

While the pool was cutting-edge in the 1930s, UNH says today, it’s not up to modern sanitation, safety, and accessibility standards.  It’s too expensive to maintain, and would cost too much to update.  UNH says it’s committed to having some sort of outdoor pool for Durham’s use nearby…maybe even keep a sliver of the old one.  But UNH alumna and former: state representative, executive councilor, university trustee and alumni board member Dudley Dudley--has gathered hundreds of signatures opposing the move.

“For me, five generations of my family have swum there.  Two of them, the day before yesterday.  But that sort of history is true for many, many families in Durham,” Dudley says.

She points out the Department of Environmental Services has repeatedly tested the pool, and never found it’s unsafe.  She also notes the university’s planned expansion of the nearby fitness center…which would likely be where the pool is now.  UNH denies it has anything to do with the expansion, and has put together a working group of staffers and residents to look into alternatives.  The granite-bottomed pool is one of two outdoor Works Progress Administration swimming pools left in the country.