Monday, August 06, 2012
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Park district debuts new outdoor pool plan

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[August 06, 2012]  The outdoor swimming season will soon be past. This year was a little different for the Lincoln community and surrounding area as no one was cooling off, frolicking or working out in the Lincoln Park District pool.

The park district offered the nearest public pool for summer swimming as part of its complex southwest of Lincoln on Primm Road.

The park district oversees several indoor and outdoor properties, including seven parks, eight ball fields, a skate park and a driving range for public recreation and fitness purposes.

The hub of indoor activity is at the Rec Center. The facility offers a wide variety of activities, fitness equipment, instruction and classes, and is where the pool is located. The pool has been a well-used feature each summer.

The center is primarily supported by property taxes and membership fees. Both resident and nonresident memberships are available at graduated rates.

New state laws requiring costly safety changes led to the local pool and about 500 other public pools in Illinois not opening this season.

While bigger plans are in the works, as a temporary alternative this summer, the park district provided daily low-cost youth programming that incorporated fitness, fun and learning. That program and other activities were quite popular and will be offered again next summer.

Below is a summary provided by executive director Marcia Greenslate on what the park district is planning for aquatics:

In January, the park board of commissioners made the decision to not open the pool in 2012. The decision was finalized in light of the declining condition of the 45-year-old facility as well as the expense of meeting the federal and state requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Act is a federal law signed into place after a 7-year-old girl drowned in 2002 after being trapped underwater by the powerful suction from a hot tub drain. This legislation requires public pools and spas to be fitted with certain equipment that is intended to prevent death or injury caused by entrapment, evisceration or entanglement.

The Lincoln Park District complied soon after notification was received in 2008.

In early 2010 information was received that new regulations had been adopted in Illinois and more modifications would be needed to become compliant by the Oct. 1, 2011, deadline. Lincoln was one of approximately 500 municipal, park district, school and hotel pools that did not meet that date.

Following the addition of new regulations in 2010, the park district began exploring options that would make the mandated changes economically feasible, while at the same time looking at options for replacing the existing facility. After many months of discussion, it became apparent that the only fiscally responsible decision was to move forward with plans for a new pool.

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The district commissioners could not justify the expense of over $100,000 to meet the new standards in state and federal regulations on a pool that continues to deteriorate.

The pool, built in 1967, has pushed the limits of its life expectancy. The pool has been a challenge to keep operational during the last few summers as the park district dealt with problems inherent in a pool more than 40 years old.

It is the intent of the park district to build a facility that will conform to current regulations, be more accessible and offer safer use for more people.

The process began more than two years ago. The design has been completed and debuted at the park district booth during the Logan County Fair last week.

The new center will feature three vessels of water: a six-lane, 25-yard lap pool; a zero-depth entry area for young children, with water features and sprays; and a plunge pool for the water slides. There will also be green areas and seating spaces protected from the sun by shades.

The cost of the project is more than $3 million.

The park district has applied to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant in the amount of $400,000. Announcement of grant recipients is typically in January or February. Until that time, no physical changes or work can be done to start the project.

There will be no increase in property taxes for Lincoln residents. The project will be funded with money currently earmarked for the pool, debt certificates, external donations of supplies and services, and hopefully the $400,000 from the grant.

Drawings of the design and more information were available at the Logan County Fair, where the park district was once again located in a tent south of the grandstand. The tent was manned from 5 to 8 nightly.

The park district is very excited about the design of the Aquatic Center and looks forward to seeing the children and adults enjoying the water once again in 2014.


Online: Lincoln Park District


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