$7.1 million pool plan is a splash with Park Ridge Park Board
Updated: January 28, 2013 2:59PM
PARK RIDGE — Plans to build new pools at Park Ridge’s Centennial Park will start moving ahead next month as a task force meets to review designs.
The Park Ridge Recreation and Park District Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 on Dec. 20 to reconstruct Centennial Pool through a non-referendum bond issue. The project, which will replace two existing lap pools with new facilities, is estimated to cost $7.1 million with $6.3 million of that amount funded through bonds.
The Park District plans to keep its annual tax levy at the same rate it has been in past years in order to cover the bond debt.
Park Board Commissioner Jim O’Brien was not present for the vote, but during a Dec. 13 meeting stated that he supported the project.
Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle said five residents will be added to the Centennial Pool Task Force to help provide input on which pool design to recommend to the Park Board.
“The architect will bring a hybrid plan to the first meeting that is the result of input from (community) meetings,” Mountcastle said. “The public was shown two plans: one proposed and one alternate.”
The Park Board will still need to vote to approve actual project bids. The goal is to construct the pools during the off-season with a July 2014 grand opening.
Plans call for the construction of two new pools with areas for diving, sliding, lap swimming and shallow water play. The existing wading pool will remain.
The new pools are expected to accommodate an additional 80 swimmers and 80 more parking spaces will be added to the park, requiring the removal of 10 trees. The Park District will also be required to provide the appropriate amount of water detention on the land.
Terry Wolf, superintendent of buildings and grounds, showed the Park Board a video of groundwater streaming into one of the lap pools through cracks last spring and photographs showing corrosion of the underside of the steel pool shell.
Patching and welding has helped keep the pools operating, Wolf said, but their condition has been deteriorating.
“As I sit here, there’s no guarantee the pool will be able to open next year,” he said.
An engineering report shared with the Park Board earlier this year found that Centennial required approximately $1.4 million worth of improvements. The pool shells are nearly 60 years old and the last time major renovations occurred was 30 years ago.
On Dec. 20 Park Board commissioners all agreed that improvements at Centennial should not go to the voters in the form of an advisory referendum.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to put a referendum about a specific project that the Park District is engaged in,” said Park Board President Rick Biagi. “If you want to redo the roof on the Community Center, that’s not a question to go before the voters. That’s what this board was elected to do.”
Biagi acknowledged that the Centennial Pool project comes with a much higher price tag than a roof replacement, but said, “the concept is still the same.” If the Park District were to place an advisory referendum on the ballot, the question should ask if voters want outdoor pools in Park Ridge in general, he said.
“A yes or no vote on whether you want pools would tell us something,” Biagi said.
Resident Bob Tamburrino agreed.
“Why don’t you ask people if you should replace the pool as it is or if they want a major water park?” he asked.
Many residents turned out to recent community meetings to provide input on Centennial. Comments both for and against the project were expressed. Few residents attended the Dec. 20 Park Board meeting where the vote to move ahead with the project was taken.