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Residents push for indoor pool, park district approves feasibility study

Published: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 6:00 a.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – Local swimming enthusiasts have reason to feel hopeful, thanks to a new study that will examine the feasibility of bringing an indoor pool to Glen Ellyn.

The Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative (G.E.A.I.) has raised more than 90 percent of the $24,000 necessary to support a feasibility study, with help from the Glen Ellyn Park District’s Gators youth swim program.

At a meeting Aug. 20, the park district’s Board of Commissioners voted to approve a contract with the Isaac Sports Group to conduct the study, which is expected to be completed by December.

The study will consider potential locations for the pool, what features it would include and the cost of the project, park district Executive Director Dave Harris said.

If an indoor park district pool were to come to Glen Ellyn, it could require a referendum, capital campaign or both to fund its construction, Harris said.

The G.E.A.I., which was created in late 2012, is the first formal effort to pursue an indoor pool, after the results of a park district community survey showed support for such an undertaking.

“For us, it was just kind of the perfect time,” G.E.A.I. member Rob Pieper said. “We felt we had information that supported our cause.”

The possibility of adding a pool to the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center appeared on the park district’s community survey in a question that asked residents to identify projects they would support with their tax dollars. Developing an indoor swimming pool at Ackerman was chosen by 27 percent of respondents. Other options received a similar level of support.

Currently, the only park district swimming facility is outdoor Sunset Pool, which is open during the summer months. Indoor swim options in Glen Ellyn, such as HealthTrack Sports Wellness and the B.R. Ryall YMCA, require memberships for general use. The College of DuPage pool, which also requires a membership, is closed for construction until early 2014.

If the park district were to have an indoor pool, Glen Ellyn residents likely would have the option to pay a daily admission fee or purchase a pool pass, Harris said.

Swimming is popular among park district users, with about 350 members in the Gators Swim Organization and a high volume of visitors to the Sunset Pool during its months of operation.

“This is a pretty big swimming community,” Harris said.

But even with that interest, there is a lack of available indoor swimming options, both for competitive teams and residents just looking to get some exercise, Pieper said.

The facilities that do exist are oftentimes not able to accommodate everyone, either because they are not equipped to handle competitive practices, or because there are just too many swim programs and classes vying for the same space, he said.

A new pool wouldn’t just be for teams; it could be used for leisure, fitness classes or therapy as well, Pieper said.

However, variables related to cost and park district prioritization have yet to be determined through the study and subsequent conversations with the community.

“Our park board is open, but obviously cautiously optimistic, because a pool is a big undertaking, and we certainly have a lot of needs and financial limitations,” Harris said.

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