By Matthew Reagan
The new 15-lane swimming pool at Occidental College was filled with water on December 13, but the inaugural plunge won’t take place until late January or early February, according to Jim Tranquada, the college’s director of communications and community relations.
The latest delay is technical and bureaucratic. Before the pool can be used, its filtration system has to run for a couple of weeks and the Los Angeles County Health Department has to schedule and complete testing of the pool’s water quality.
The opening, when it happens, will be the end of a long saga. Rain forced the college to push the project’s expected completion from June to this past October — a deadline the college missed due to difficulty obtaining city permit approval, according to Tranquada.
Along with delays, the project was hit with a loss of $1.5 million in funding after The Occidental, the Oxy campus newspaper, reported that one of the project’s donors, an Occidental almuna, was photographed in the 1984 college yearbook wearing blackface. This controversy prompted the donors and college officials to take the donor’s name off the pool and reallocate their donation to scholarships.
According to Tranquada, fundraising efforts to make up for this $1.5 million reallocation have been successful, but the pool will not be named after a donor. Instead, it will be referred to as the De Mandel Aquatic Center pool, after the name of the complex in which it is located.
Local residents who buy a community pass to Oxy’s athletic facilities will have access to the new pool when it opens. For more information on community passes, visit: oxyathletics.com/facilities/communitypass or call 323-259-2608.
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