LOWELL -- The last swim in the Lowell High School pool may have already happened.
The pool closed near the end of this school year due to problems with heating systems for both the room and the water, according to City Manager Eileen Donoghue.
Whether the facility will reopen this school year is “a work in progress right now,” though replacing the system may be more than the city can afford, she said.
Recent estimates have placed the work at about $300,000, according to Donoghue. Depending on whether the system -- which is original to the almost 40-year-old pool -- is repaired or replaced, Mayor William Samaras said the cost could be higher, possibly up to $600,000.
Following a winter plagued by building issues, the city pledged $255,000 to replace heating units to keep classrooms warm.
“On top of all the heating repairs we must do (fixing the pool is) very cost prohibitive,” Donoghue said.
Even if the the repairs are completed, the pool’s days are numbered, according to Samaras and Donoghue.
In late June, the Massachusetts School Building Authority gave the final approval for a $345.4 million renovation and expansion of the downtown high school. Despite pleas, the MSBA has remained firm on its position that it will not pay for any building with a new swimming pool in it.
“Very few high schools in the state have pools, Samaras said. Earlier this year he said only 36 of the state’s 271 high schools have pools.
In the past, the school’s swim teams have used the UMass Lowell pool on an intermittent basis, according to university spokeswoman Christine Gillette.
As required by the NCAA, the university must charge all users an hourly fee of $125. She said this price has been quoted to Lowell High School, but no contract is in place at this time.
The high school’s pool is also used by other athletic teams to train or rehabilitate after injuries. Each period, a physical education class is taught at the pool and special education students also make periodic use of the facilities.
When asked what would happen to uses beyond the swim team if the pool were to remain closed, Donoghue referred questions to Lowell High School Headmaster Marianne Busteed.
Busteed referred questions to the Superintendent’s office. Acting Superintendent Jeannine Durkin did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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