A peek at Hopkins pool plans

DeKALB – If everything goes according to plan, the DeKalb Park District should have a new swimming pool at Hopkins Park by the start of the swimming season in 2015.

A schematic design of the new pool, which should cost about $5.5 million, was presented at two informational meetings last week. Besides informing the public of what the board is considering, executive director Cindy Capek said the district is seeking public input on features the pool should have.

“We need to know what you like and what you don’t so we can move on,” board member Mike Teboda told about 25 people at the first meeting.

Capek said the board needs to finalize plans by this summer to proceed with its scheduled timeline. If construction begins after the 2014 swimming season, it will hopefully be completed by the start of the 2015 season.

Those who weren’t able to attend the meetings can still offer their input by calling or emailing Capek and board members.

The current pool, Capek said, was built in 1974. The life of most pools is between 35 and 40 years.

A 2008 audit recommended building a new pool, rather than spend $5 million to rebuild just the shell. A $15 million referendum was soundly defeated in 2009.

“It was a bad time (for a referendum), but we thought we had to do something,” Teboda said.

Rather than seeking another referendum, Capek said the board chose to use its existing capital budget and finance the pool with 20-year bonds.

Responding to a question from one person at the first meeting, Capek said the board can’t afford to put the project on hold a year to see if a smaller referendum might pass.

“We are on borrowed time now,” she said, adding that the board had to use a costly “Band-Aid approach” to fixing some problems last year.

“The pool is just screaming for our attention right now,” board president Joan Berkes-Hanson said.

According to Doug Holzrichter, president of PHN Architects, the new pool will be a little smaller than the existing one, accommodating a maximum of 1,100 bathers at a time, rather than the current 1,400-bather capacity. The pool currently averages about 450 patrons a day. Holzrichter estimated that will increase 20 to 30 percent the first few years of the remodeled pool’s operation.

The design presented at the meetings included a new zero-depth pool, lap pool and plunge pool with waterslides, a new concessions/pool/mechanical building, a new diving well, a new concession deck, a new retaining wall and retention area, and new perimeter fencing. There will also be a remodeled bathhouse and a remodeled tot pool.

Not everything, such as the wading pool, will be replaced. The number of lap lanes will also remain the same.

Holzrichter said the new facility increases the number of parking spaces from 160 to 170 and allows space for any future expansion.

Capek said there may be a “modest increase” in fees, which haven’t gone up in two years, “but it won’t be out there.”

Be Heard

What features of the Hopkins Park pool plan are important to you? Call the DeKalb Park District at 815-758-6663, ext. 124 or visit www.dekalbparkdistrict.com for a list of board member email addresses.

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