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Forum offers peek at Hopkins Pool plans

DeKALB – A handful of DeKalb residents learned about plans to rebuild Hopkins Pool with new features, more parking and a new entry walk.

Ideas for the new pool, slated to be ready for the 2015 season, also include a handicap-accessible entry into the pool, a diving well, and a 10-foot raindrop umbrella that will shower swimmers while in the water.

DeKalb Park Board members want to spend about $5 million to rebuild the Hopkins Pool on its existing footprint starting in August 2014, and are seeking opinions from the public on the plan.

The money to rebuild the pool will come out of the park district's capital budget program and will not require a tax increase, said Cindy Capek, executive director for the DeKalb Park Board.

The park district held one public information session Thursday, with a second session planned for 9 a.m. today at the Hopkins Park Community Center, 1403 Sycamore Road, DeKalb.

The new pool will be smaller than the existing one, but it will include more amenities. The tot pool also will be renovated and more bathrooms will be added in the community center.

“This pool addresses more diversity,” said Joan Berkes-Hanson, president of the DeKalb Park Board. “That big rectangle doesn't.”

The new design will fit about 600 people in the pool at one time, as compared with 750 people in the current pool. On average, however, only 450 people go to the Hopkins Park pool in an entire day.

“We design the pool for typical use,” said Doug Holzrichter, president of PHN Architects. “When a new church is built, they don't design for Easter Sunday.”

The capacity for the new design would be 1,100 users. This number, called the bathing capacity, adds people who can fit in the pool itself plus people on the deck, Berkes-Hanson said. The existing pool has a bathing capacity of 1,400.

The new facility will also include more parking spaces, bringing the total to about 168 parking spaces.

The DeKalb Park Board also is flirting with the idea of including a lazy river sometime in the near future, but it will not be included in the present plan because there is not enough money in the budget.

Suggestions from the crowd in attendance Thursday included turning the grass into Astroturf to prevent flooding, adding a stepladder to the side of the pool for lap swimmers, and cutting trees down to add more parking spaces.  

The board also suggested they could add parking on the other side of Dresser Road by the tennis courts.

Hopkins Pool presently has cracks in the deck and mechanical issues in the facility.

A referendum that proposed higher property taxes to pay for a more expensive pool renovation was rejected by voters by a margin of 3 to 1 in 2010. Instead, the DeKalb Park District will take out a loan and pay it off at about $440,00 to $450,000 a year for the next 20 years, Capek said.

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