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Hopkins Pool plan now has 2015 deadline

DeKALB – As the DeKalb park commissioners contemplate the future of the aging Hopkins Pool, they now have a deadline for their work: 2015.

That’s when the DeKalb Park District has to submit to the state a plan to make the pool comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Lisa Small, the assistant director of finance and administration.

“If we have a pool upgrade plan in place with a timeline, they won’t come in here and shut us down in March 2015,” Small said. “If we said we’re addressing these with our new pool and our time is beyond that, they will acknowledge you’re addressing it.”

Small’s comments came during a two-hour workshop meeting of the DeKalb park board Thursday. It was a workshop meeting, so public comment was not allowed and no official action was taken. Commissioners Mike Teboda and Don Irving were not present.

The meeting was a public conversation between the park commissioners, district administrators, and park district staffers who work to keep the park district facilities operational. The various officials shared their ideas – and their worries – about replacing the 39-year-old Hopkins Pool.

The ideas are focused on three different options for the pool: repair, start over or collaborate with nearby Sycamore. Park staff noted that parts of the pool still are in good shape, such as the concrete bowl holding the water. But they don’t know the condition of all the pipes that lead into the pool.

And there’s concern about how much renovation the DeKalb Park District can do on a pool that is out-of-date.

“Sometimes, when you get involved with an improvement project, if the percentage of the project is up to a certain size, then you have to revert to recent [building] code,” said Brad Garrison, assistant director of planning and development.

The commissioners also discussed the possibility of building a new pool in a new location. DeKalb Kiwanis Park, located along South Fourth Street near Huntley Middle School, and Katz Park, located along West Dresser Road near DeKalb High School, were floated as alternate sites.

And then there was the issue of cost.

The previous park board was considering borrowing $5 million to pay for pool renovations.

However, park board President Phil Young said the cost to replace Hopkins Pool with a quality pool would be more expensive than that.

“I’m sure, if we wanted to, we could build a pool for $5 million, but it won’t serve the needs of the community,” Young said in an interview.

During the meeting, Young said he was uncomfortable with borrowing more money when the park district still is paying off its Sports and Recreation Center. Those bonds will not be paid off until 2019.

“If you’re doubling that [debt service] amount or even more – a yearly amount – and then there’s some emergency problem in the district, how are you going to pay for it?” Young said. “Do you have to do an emergency referendum? Do you have to cut services? At the same time, we don’t want to see the pool break down tomorrow and not have a pool for two-plus years.”

The board was scheduled to talk about collaborating with Sycamore Park District on a pool, but commissioners ran out of time to discuss it.

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