A popular swimming hole is scheduled to be closed at summer's end after years of drowning in debt.

Coming off a $184,000 operating loss just from last year, as well as a projected cost of $170,000 to fully repair aging equipment at Salt Lake Community College's South City campus swimming pool, officials say they can't afford to keep it open any longer.

SLCC President Cynthia Bioteau announced to the campus community last week that the pool will be closed upon the completion of summer term on Aug. 10.

"The decision is based squarely in the financial realm as we continue our responsibility to remain a constant guardian of our fiscal resources," she said in an e-mail to colleagues, which was obtained by the Deseret News.

Community members are up in arms about the closure, saying the swimming pool is one of the best in the area.

"A lot of people really enjoy this pool," said Nate Ashman, a lifeguard at the pool. "People use it for their workouts, they take classes, they do water aerobics, and at any time, the pool is full of kids from the community. It's a great place to swim."

Water fitness classes have already been canceled, as well as other courses such as kayaking and scuba diving that were often taught at the facility's separate lap and dive pools, located at 1575 S. State.

A letter of protest, signed by dozens of community members, hangs on the bulletin board at the pool facility.

"I think it's bogus," Ashman said, adding that eight or nine employees, including lifeguards, instructors and maintenance crews at the pool would likely be without jobs come August.

Bioteau has said that scheduled classes will continue as normal in the fall; however, they will continue at surrounding community-accessible pools with which the college has worked to secure partnerships. The future of the facility has yet to be discussed, but SLCC spokesman Joy Tlou said plans made in 1992, at the time the college acquired and completed renovations of the South City campus, have obviously changed, along with the deteriorating condition of the facilities.

"We're sentimental about the building and hate to see any radical changes made," said David Hansen, a member of the South High School Alumni Association, whose members are upset they didn't have a chance to save the pool.

"We asked that they would take whatever steps are necessary and reasonable to keep the pool open," he said, adding that the association, which has "had a pretty good relationship with the college" was never given the option to help save the pool. He believes a marketing strategy could help generate interest in the pool, perhaps generating a greater revenue stream. A pool of any size, however, is expensive to maintain.

"To close it up without trying to promote it further defies logic," said Hansen, who learned to swim at the pool.

The SCC pool, which was originally built in 1966, has endured multiple repairs, including a recent "temporary fix" to the 12-foot-deep dive tank, which cost the college $17,000. The tank had been leaking anywhere from 1,000 to 13,000 gallons a day before the propulsion jets were relocated, allowing sustained operation.

Tlou said a complete replacement or new liner would be required to make the pool fully functional for the long term. He also said that maintenance costs continue to rise, including escalating costs of heating the indoor pool.

The alumni association, according to facilities managers at the pool, maintains that the dive tank is not in need of additional repairs.

The costs have proven too much for the college, and during a June 17 meeting, SLCC's board of trustees voted unanimously to close the pool and not incur further deficits. The board's decision comes after what Bioteau calls a "complete review and attempt to find community partners to assist the college in keeping the pool open."

Pool access remains open until the closing date, and information has been posted at the facility detailing options for use of surrounding neighborhood and public swimming pools.

E-mail: [email protected]