Residents React to $7.1 Million Pool Plan
Some felt the Park Ridge Park District (which includes part of Niles) board should go ahead; others voiced concerns about the district's $7.1 million renovation project for Centennial Pool. It's set for a vote Dec. 20.
Nearly 100 residents packed a meeting room at the Park Ridge Park District's senior center Thursday, addressing the district's Board of Commissioners on a proposed $7.1 million pool renovation project at the Centennial Pool complex.
In a second public hearing, residents expressed support and concerns, and were given the opportunity to ask the board, staff and project managers questions about the proposed renovations.
Residents against losing the pool as an asset to the city
A number of residents highlighted the district's facilities as draws to living in Park Ridge. Many highlighted their experiences at park district pools and supported plans to improve the complex.
“It was invigorating to hear their support,” the district’s Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle said. “It echoes what surveys said that people want (the pools) replaced.”
Earlier: Not so fast, some residents say
Residents also noted the disrepair of the current pools at Centennial and raised concerns about the closing of Oakton Pool in 2011.
“We found that when we analyzed the pools, Oakton was the least used pool compared to the money it was bringing in,” said Mary Wynn Ryan, vice president of the board. “[The closing] was based on where are the people going to already.”
The Centennial project calls for new pools, water features and slides and would reconfigure the existing area to incorporate more green spaces between amenities.
Currently, pools at the park have a capacity of 900-920 bathers, and the project would increase the capacity by 80 bathers. The plan also calls for a parking lot expansion.
“The parking lot is a mess. We are very aware of that,” Board President Rick Biagi told residents, adding the parking lot expansion would likely happen even if the board does not approve the pool renovations.
Some call the renovations an expansion, not a replacement
Not all residents at Thursday’s public hearing supported the district’s plans.
Steve Schildwachter, a Park Ridge resident who lives near Hinckley Pool, was one of many who asked the board to send the project to referendum.
“What you’re presenting is an expansion,” Schildwachter said. “What would it cost to just truly replace the pool? I think the community will get behind that. Just because you can borrow this money doesn’t mean you should.”
The cost to replace the two existing pools might cost the district $4 million to $4.5 million, board members said. There would be an additional $1.5 million for support improvements such as expanding the parking lot.
Board members said the plan was a needed replacement.
Jim Marland, a consultant helping the district develop the plan, said renovations often make big changes to facilities to keep up with aquatic trends.
“Typically, the improvements bring new revenue because of new aquatic amenities. The first phase essentially what we are making a modern with approximately the same amount of bathers,” Jim Marland said.
The board is set to vote to approve funding the project on Dec. 20. Residents are invited to attend a third public hearing on Dec. 13. at the South Park recreational center.
The district sent out postcards to residents before Thursday's meeting to ask for their input and comments.