Planning is underway for renovations to athletics facilities that would update Taylor Pool, locker rooms, athletics offices and tennis courts. Currently, there is no confirmed timeline for completion of the project, according to Interim Head Coach of Women’s and Men’s Swimming and Diving Tom Iannone.
The renovation will be funded by designated gifts to the college, donated for the specific purpose of renovating the pool and athletic facilities, according to Facilities Project Manager John Mortl.
While proposals are in the works, current renovation designs are not yet final, according to Director of Facilities Management Tom Polansky. The board of trustees has not yet approved any of the proposed changes.
After the internal approval, the college must file renovation plans with the city of Los Angeles, a task Mortl hopes will be completed later this year. According to Mortl, the plan approval process — including a public review by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council — can take up to 10 months, followed by an estimated 14 months of construction required to see the plans out. According to Iannone, the construction plans will need to work around different sports’ seasons.
Lights on Patterson Field and the tennis courts would also be updated to use a higher efficiency system, reducing the amount of light spill onto the neighborhood, according to Mortl. Iannone added that the brightness of the lights used late at night on Patterson Field has been frustrating to community members.
The new pool and recreation center would generate significant revenue for the college, Iannone said, which is part of the reason this renovation is a high priority for Occidental. There is a need for a better facility in the area around Occidental for use by both high school and college teams and community members.
Adding a diving well to the pool would garner business from neighboring facilities like the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, according to Iannone. When the Occidental aquatics teams wrap up for the summer, the school rents out the facility to spillover business from the Rose Bowl, Iannone said. With a bigger facility, the college would be able to rent out the space throughout the year, like the California Institute of Technology , and bring in revenue by hosting meets, water polo matches, swim lessons and diving competitions, Iannone said.
The renovated pool would also boost recruitment to Occidental’s aquatics teams, according to Iannone. Currently, despite the position of Occidental’s women’s and men’s swim teams in SCIAC, recruits often turn instead to the programs offered at the Claremont Colleges and University of Redlands because of these schools’ superior facilities, Iannone said.
Taylor Pool has become increasingly expensive to maintain due to regular repairs and maintenance, Iannone said, and its small size also forces the swim team to split up and practice in shifts, negatively impacting morale and hindering team bonding. The new pool would be large enough for the entire team to practice at once, Mortl said.
According to Occidental Swimmer Maddie DiMarco (junior), the new pool has been under discussion since she applied to Occidental.
“When I was first looking at coming to Oxy and talking to coaches, I was told there would be a new pool by the time I graduated,” she said. “And I will graduate probably without seeing them break ground.”
DiMarco also said there are current seniors and even recent graduates who were told during recruitment that they would see a new pool during their time at Occidental.
“I think the design is really cool, I just wish that they would stop making promises, and if they want this to be a focus, then put the money into it,” DiMarco said.