Administration: Fixing current pools is not a practical option

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School should fix up its current pools rather than spend millions of dollars more on a new facility, say some Oak Park residents.

A preliminary study of the nearly century-old east and west pools done by Legat Architects, the school's design firm, estimates it would cost $20 million to fix up both. But that fix-up still wouldn't solve other issues, say Legat and school officials, like the lack of safe diving space needed on the pool deck. That problem forced OPRF to suspend spring board diving in the east pool in 2012 after new federal and state safety regulations took affect that year.

Still, fixing up the current pools is still supported by some, though school officials have ruled out that possibility.

At the Aug. 19, special meeting concerning updated pool facility plans, nearly 20 people spoke during public comments. Most opposed building the facility on part of the baseball field, which was recommended by an ad hoc school board committee investigating possible sites. The price ranges for the three sites run around $34-$38 million.

Other speakers, including Gary Kaplan said the school should fix up the current pools.

"The pools are decrepit, fine, granted," he said. "That's unacceptable, but we also don't accept that for a fraction of the $35 million or more represented by each of the identified options that the current pools can't be rebuilt in their current location to acceptable standards."

But other speakers, even those opposed to building on particular sites, said the high school needs new, updated pools and visitor seating.

"I know that my children will not benefit from this pool but that's OK," said parent Dana Coleman, who has one student swimmer at OPRF and two former students who went through the program. "As our predecessors did in the 1920s our community needs to think about the future and build a lasting tradition at OPRF."

OPRF officials maintain that a new pool facility will improve the school's aquatics program. The proposed Olympic-sized pool will allow the current program to serve more students, officials said. 

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Reader Comments

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In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 6:09 AM

While you're at it, extend and/or enlarge the fieldhouse and/or track. An outdoor track option in front of the stadium could be incorporated into spending plans, too. A separate new building for a new pool will require new annual maintenance costs, right? That'd be commiting to spending future monies. Avoid that mortgage of the future. Legat's the professional; if they can't produce outside-the-box affordable options, get someone who will. Quit screwing around, pissing off residents & teams.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 5:55 AM

Solve what other issues? Pose this to Legat- START with the primary goal of putting a 50 meter pool at the current site of the west pool. How can we do it? Options. If Legat can't design something affordable with the D200 starting point, get another Architect. OPRF is the customer; if Legat has no affordable product, get another supplier.


Posted: August 27th, 2014 10:18 PM

The current pools have outlasted their usable life. Even with constant repairs - & the interruptions in use that go with them - the current pools are on their last leg. And pools are important. Swimming is part of the PE program and I'm glad for it. Any amount of swimming skill has the potential to be life saving. Swimming is also a great form of exercise for people of all ages and for some people school is where they will learn that. Our community needs swimming & the HS needs a new pool.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 3:36 PM

The money would be better spent on eliminating the pools altogether and somehow covering the pool at Ridgeland to be used year round. This could accommodate the swim team and dive team possibly. Would be close to campus and still allow the community to use the pool at other times. Would also keep the open athletic fields intact and the space where the old pools are at the HS would could be renovated for future classroom space.

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