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Our View: Park districts’ breakup no one’s fault

Maybe the proposed marriage of the DeKalb and Sycamore park districts was something for which neither side was ready.

But it appears they still really want to be friends.

Last week, officials from the DeKalb and Sycamore park districts announced they wouldn’t be able to work together on building a new pool for their residents.

The DeKalb park leaders don’t want to buy any new land, and the Sycamore park officials didn’t want a pool built somewhere too far from its own residents.

So they decided to call the whole thing off.

Beyond that, there’s not a lot of clarity yet on what they will do on their own.

In DeKalb, park board President Phil Young says there will be no decision made about the future of Hopkins Pool until a new executive director is hired. The district has been without an executive director since Cindy Capek’s ouster in May, and what to do about the pool will be a key question posed during the interview process, Young said.

The DeKalb park board does not have unlimited time to come to some decision, however. The pool does not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the park district must have a plan to bring it up to snuff by 2015. Investing money in updating the old pool, if the plan is eventually to rebuild, would not make sense.

Meanwhile in Sycamore, the plan is to survey residents on what they want done with the park district’s 31-year-old pool.

The public pool isn’t the most popular amenity in the district, officials have said. That could change if they built something that was both larger and more modern. The park district has convened a strategic planning team to consider several of its goals for the next decade, including building a new community center, pool, and other desired improvements.

Hopefully, the new round of surveys will help park officials determine where a pool fits in among residents’ priorities and what they might be willing to pay for it.

Although there clearly were irreconcilable differences that led to the end of the pairing of the two park districts, it looks like they both have some work to do on their own for now.

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