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Lake Park High School D-108 pool referendums fail to garner enough support

Lake Park High School District 108 Superintendent Lynne Panega discusses plans for the school's aquatic center at a forum March 11.
Lake Park High School District 108 Superintendent Lynne Panega discusses plans for the school's aquatic center at a forum March 11.

Both referendum questions that would have made the Lake Park Community Aquatic Center possible have failed, according to preliminary DuPage County election results.

For the fourth time, Lake Park High School District 108 in Roselle sought voter support to build an indoor pool at its east campus.

Bringing the center to life required two referendum measures to be passed Tuesday: one for construction costs and the other to cover annual operations.

The bond referendum for construction failed by about 44 to 56 percent, while the tax increase question for operations lost by about 42.1 to 57.9 percent, according to results reported Tuesday.

"I think overall there's a sense of disappointment but definitely a respect and acknowledgment of the voice of the community," Superintendent Lynne Panega said.

The 23,500-square-foot addition would have included an eight-lane, 25-yard pool with a diving well, an activity/warming pool, and seating capacity for 330 spectators. The expectation was for both students and community members to use it.

The total construction cost for the project was projected to be $9.1 million, including $600,000 that would have come from existing school district funds and $8.5 million the district hoped to obtain through the issuance of bonds, according to district records.

The bonds would have been paid off during the next 10 years through an increase in residents' property taxes, records show.

Taxes would have increased further to cover the center's annual operational costs of $390,000, which the second referendum question addressed on Tuesday's ballot.

Overall, the financial impact to taxpayers to support the project would have been $37.56 annually for a $300,000 home, according to district records.

Prior to this election, the pool project was most recently voted down in April 2013, but the prospect of bringing an indoor pool to campus has been discussed for about 30 years, officials said.

This time, though, Lake Park had partnered with the Bloomingdale, Itasca, Medinah and Roselle park districts to see how the project could benefit them.

Community support for the pool project was spearheaded by the group People for a Pool.

A large part of the the group's work included making sure voters had access to factual information to help them make an informed decision when they headed to the polls, said Lisa Gregor, president of People for a Pool.

However, Gregor was disappointed that some people turned to other sources for information that she said was misleading.

While Roselle resident and pool supporter Barb Hochstadt was not a member of People for a Pool, she did assist in some of the group's efforts and said the group worked hard to try to get the referendums passed.

"It was not for lack of trying," Hochstadt said. "I think we ran a perfect campaign; it just didn't fly."

Next steps for Lake Park include discussions between administration and Board of Education members to talk about the results, Board of Education President Bob Marino said.

Beyond that, Marino said the district does not have any other steps mapped out at this point.

Pursuing another referendum if these two failed had not been discussed prior to Tuesday's vote, he said. And the district had come up dry when reaching out to private donors to support the project in the past, Marino said.

However, district officials still believe strongly in the benefits of the aquatic center for students and the community, Panega said.

"We're willing to explore all possibilities," she said.

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