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Plan for Hopkins Pool in the works

DeKALB – Leaders of the DeKalb Park District have about three months to decide how they are going to rebuild Hopkins Pool, if they want to have the new pool open in 2015.

Park commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to hire PHN Architects of Aurora to shepherd the $5 million project, district Executive Director Cindy Capek said. Park district leaders hope to gather public input through March, which will allow the architects to fine-tune the design and project budget so planning documents can be finished in June.

The new pool will fit within the footprint of the existing pool at 1403 Sycamore Road and within the footprint of the park district’s existing budget.

“I credit the board for making this decision to look at balancing all of our resources and the needs of the community,” Capek said.

After a failed $15 million referendum in February 2010 and an unsuccessful grant application, district leaders decided to scale back the proposed improvements, sell about $5 million in bonds and fund the bond payments with existing revenues, Capek said.

That means pushing back some paving projects and waiting longer to replace some equipment, but there weren’t any drastic changes to the five-year capital plan. The district is set to pay off bonds associated with the Sports and Recreation Center, 1765 S. Fourth St., in 2019. It also plans to spend at least $100,000 a year in the coming years making facilities accessible for those with disabilities.

“We have to do what we can within our budget,” Commissioner Mike Teboda said as commissioners reviewed the five-year plan Wednesday. “I think we all agree we need a new pool.”

During the grant application process in late 2010, park district leaders considered a plan that would reduce the pool’s bather capacity from 1,400 to 800, which park Commissioner David Mason said was too small.

But other leaders aren’t committed to that plan, Capek said. They likely will reach out to residents active in the 2010 referendum campaign and the general public during meetings. First, though, the architects need to meet with park commissioners and existing facilities, including the locker rooms, must be evaluated.

“You don’t want to bring people into a room and say ‘Let’s talk about having a pool’ without parameters,” Capek said. “... You have to have a little bit of core knowledge first.”

DeKalb resident and former mayor Bessie Chronopoulos emphasized the importance of public input sessions Wednesday.

“What we end up with is going to be there for many, many years,” Chronopoulos said.

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