PRESQUE ISLE — After collaborating since 2014 to offer the city’s aquatics program at the Gentile Hall pool, the City of Presque Isle and the University of Maine at Presque Isle have established a new pool partnership meant to increase efficiencies and cost savings while providing more access to the central Aroostook region.
In concert with the opening of the Gentile Hall pool to the public this month, the aquatics program will shift from a city-administered program at the Gentile Hall pool to one administered by the University that will be available to all area residents; non-resident fees will no longer exist. To oversee the programming, Sloan Dionne has been hired as UMPI’s new assistant director of Gentile Hall and aquatics director.
“It’s a bit of a swap really, but there won’t be much in the way of any impact to our pool users,” Dick Gardiner, director of Gentile Hall, said. “It’s still a collaboration with the City but UMPI will run and staff the program and take on the responsibility for the day to day program operations, and Sloan will still run the program. Those who choose to take advantage of the aquatics program — for lessons, classes, or lap swim — will just register and coordinate through UMPI instead of the rec department.”
“The City is excited about this collaboration with UMPI as it will benefit the area residents with year round aquatic opportunities,” City Manager Martin Puckett said. “We have looked at various options for aquatics programming over the years since we no longer have an indoor pool of our own. We’ve been in a hybrid situation for a long time, but when we collectively saw the opportunity for UMPI to pick up the aquatics programming and be solely responsible for it, and the logistical efficiencies and cost savings that would result, we knew this was the option that made the most sense.”
UMPI’s aquatics program will include group and private swimming lessons, water exercise lessons, and lap swim. Gardiner said the hope is to open the pool for lessons and general swim times once the health situation allows, as well as for pool rentals for private parties. For now, just lap swim is on the schedule.
“The pool opened to the community for lap swim on July 1,” Gardiner said. “We have a slate of reservations for early July. The die-hard lap swimmers are eager to get back.”
The pool will be open for lap swim from Monday to Friday, noon to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30-6 p.m. Gardiner said he expects to expand those hours in mid-July: “we’re just working to get lifeguard staffing in place.” In order to use the pool for lap swim, community members need to purchase day passes for $5 or get a membership (these can be done as one month, six month or one year packages, and range from $35-$250). In terms of health and safety protocols for using the facility, individuals need to have proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of coming to the UMPI campus. Masks need to be worn until individuals are physically in the pool. Locker rooms are available for use. Additionally, individuals will need to email Gentile Hall to reserve lanes in advance for lap swim.
This summer, Dionne will be fine tuning UMPI’s aquatics program as Gentile Hall prepares to offer swimming and water exercise lessons to the public as soon as it can safely do so. In addition, she’ll be facilitating discussions with surrounding communities that want to partner on aquatics programming opportunities.
Dionne, a 2003 UMPI graduate, has worked for the City of Presque Isle since 1997. She worked as its assistant aquatics director for several years and has served as aquatics director since 2011. Prior to her time with the city, she worked at the YMCA and YWCA in Bangor as an assistant aquatics director.
She has served as a regional aquatics resource for many years. She trains lifeguards in the area and has conducted the Red Cross CPR classes for the region. She also has organized the Special Olympics Aquatics program in the region for many years and that work will continue in her role at UMPI.
“Since the Presque Isle indoor pool closed in 2014, most of Dionne’s working hours have been in the Gentile Hall pool. She’s been a part of our facility for several years now. She’s a face people will be really familiar with. For her followers and lessons, nothing should change. If anything, they may see more offerings with her responsibilities full-time in our facility,” Gardiner said. “We’re very pleased to have her on board. She’s going to be a great addition to the Gentile Hall team.”
Of special note for those who have graduated from UMPI, the University will begin offering free Gentile Hall memberships for all UMPI graduates (family members of graduates will still need to purchase memberships). To activate these alumni memberships, UMPI graduates should stop by Gentile Hall to complete the necessary registration forms.
For more information, or details about membership pricing, contact Gardiner at 207-768-9772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.