By: Maddie Kievit
Superintendent Roger Bearup describes the Grandville natatoriums “Like an old and out of date car.” The issue of aquatics has long been a topic of discussion at Grandville, with pool safety and maintenance at the forefront of the conversation. Both the high school and middle school pools haven’t been updated since the buildings were first installed. At this point of the pool’s lifespan, it is financially a better option to upgrade than to keep “nickel and diming it” like the district has been doing thus far, Mr. Bearup explains.
Luckily, Bond Proposal 2, which will be voted on November 5th of this year, focuses on constructing a new natatorium just behind the current high school. The $29.4 million dollar deal would include a new building with a “colder” competition pool and a “warmer” pool for community-ed activities such as water aerobics. The installation of this off-campus building means that the pools could be utilized throughout the day without interfering with school hours. While no blueprint plans have been officially set, Mr. Bearup commented that the competition pool will most likely take some inspiration from Hudsonville’s natatorium, which was upgraded in 2015.
The current Grandville High School pool has only 8 lanes and two 1 meter diving boards. It is easy to see the poor lighting, limited deck space and cloudy water that users of the pool are challenged with every day.
The Hudsonville pool hosts up to 15 lanes with two 1 meter diving boards and a 3 meter board as well. The clarity and spaciousness of this pool are well appreciated by the entire community and are often used for huge aquatic competitions that bring recognition and revenue to the Hudsonville area.
“It would be nice to not be embarrassed when you tell people you’re from Grandville,” says swim mom Kelly Kievit, adding that the condition of the Grandville pools have become “a running joke” among the other OK Red swimmers and water polo players since she swam in the mid-1980s. Grandville is the only school in Division 1 with eight lanes, the majority of other schools having at least 15 lanes in order to accommodate multiple aquatic activities at once. Things such as handicap access, lack of windows, and low seating numbers are other common concerns shared by spectators in regards to the Grandville pools.
One of the biggest reasons for building a new pool is to help with maintenance issues and health concerns that affect the aquatic teams every day. Chloe Graverson and Mileyka Ballard, both captains of the swim and water polo teams, can recall numerous occasions where the pool conditions heeded their ability to practice or compete. “The scoreboard goes off or stops working at almost every swim meet,” says Chloe, “It’s awful to swim an entire race only to look up and realize you don’t have an accurate time because the scoreboard shut off.” Mileyka shares her concerns about the temperature imbalances, saying that “Just two weeks ago, we had to cancel a meet because the pool deck was over 85 degrees.” Teams who consistently use the pools complain of problems associated with chlorine imbalances as well, including difficulty breathing and hair bleaching.
Mr. Bearup explains that the addition of this natatorium would come full circle to benefit the community. Having a large pool would make it possible to host weekend competitions, attracting teams from across the Midwest to come and stay in Grandville. This influx of athletes would, in turn, support local businesses and boost the overall economy.
Community members can support this bond by participating in the upcoming forums on October 1st and 29th to learn more, as well as voting “yes” on the proposal on the November 5th ballot.