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DeKalb Park District floats idea of replacing Hopkins Pool

DeKALB – The DeKalb Park District is working on a preliminary design to replace the aging Hopkins Pool, possibly in 2015.

Executive Director Cindy Capek said the $6 million effort will keep the pool in the same location.

“We’re not moving the pool to another location,” Capek said. “It will be a new pool with all of the amenities and the configuration.”

Capek said the board and the public will have input on the amenities and design.

When a community pool reaches 30 to 35 years old, “you’re pushing the envelope,” Capek said. The pool’s infrastructure takes a beating because of the state’s winter seasons. By the time the new version of Hopkins Pool opens, it will be 40 years old.

In 2010, a referendum for a new aquatic center at Hopkins Park – which had a price tag of $15 million – failed. Now, the renovations will be funded with existing revenue streams.

“We’re trying to be sensitive for what we have available with capital expenditures as well as finance other projects as well,” said Capek, adding that the park district will have to balance the funding of the pool with its other projects.

Capek emphasized that the pool’s overhaul is in the preliminary phase, and the only commitment is the $6 million budget. But she noted that the architect – PHN Architects – has sought preliminary input from the board about concerns.

“It’s more doing due diligence prior to the planning process,” Capek said.

For Joan Berkes-Hanson, the president of the park board of commissioners, handicap accessibility is a must for the pool. As for other features, that is something the board will have to discuss.

“(The new pool) is a balance of all of those features,” said Berkes-Hanson, noting they have to consider a wide variety of pool users, including lap swimmers, toddlers and teenagers. “Our goal is to create a balance to provide for all of those various groups.”

Berkes-Hanson said she is glad to see the park district taking action.

“I’m very pleased that it’s a movement toward providing continued aquatics,” Berkes-Hanson said. “We’re really pushing the expected life limit. I’m proud we’re acting now to ensure aquatics will continue in DeKalb.”

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