The Southern Oregon University pool could reopen as soon as Monday if contracts with four potential user groups are signed.




The groups, backed by the Aquatics Foundation of Southern Oregon, are about $13,000 short of the original fundraising goals of $87,000 required for annual operating costs, according to the foundation, but a new agreement with SOU will allow them to make the payments in three installments through next April, said SOU Athletics Director Dennis Francois.




The university offered contracts to Rogue Valley Masters, Southern Oregon Water Polo, Phoenix-Talent swim team and the Ashland High School swim team, who so far would have exclusive use of the pool, Francois said.




"We are not doing an open swim time basically due to the scheduling and lifeguards," he said. "The contracts are written so that it's up to the university's discretion to allow any additional users, whether that be internal or external."




Groups signing the contract must agree to pay any repair fees should the pool break down after it reopens, instead of paying the $25,000 the university originally asked for up front. The pool will remain open through Aug. 15 as long as payments are made, Francois said.




The promised opening date came just in time for upcoming seasons, said Cyndi Mathews, executive director of the Aquatics Foundation.




"If we didn't open the pool by October, it would really interfere with the swimming and water polo season," Mathews said. "Hopefully it should be open a year. We have enough money to if nothing else breaks for ten months."




Fundraising efforts will continue even after the pool reopens to ensure its continued availability, she said, including a Halloween party at the Historic Ashland Armory with salsa lessons, dancing and a silent auction.




The organization is still searching for a long-term solution, as there are no plans for renovation or a new facility at SOU, Mathews said. Aquatics groups met at the Rogue Valley YMCA Wednesday night to seek direction.




"Spending $25 million on a new swimming complex doesn't seem probable, so were going to get together to discuss options and the state of aquatics," she said. "It's just going to be a starting point to bring everyone together. If we can unite, we can make more progress more rapidly."




Both Medford Parks and Recreation and the Rogue Valley YMCA are conducting feasibility studies, and the groups hope to meet with additional area businesses once the studies have been completed in a few months, Mathews said.




The alumni group that offered to endow a reinstatement of the swimming and water polo teams at SOU are also still researching the specifics of their proposal.




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