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Glen Ellyn Park District to put indoor pool referendum on November ballot

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 12:30 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 4:11 p.m. CST
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Glen Ellyn Park District Executive Director Dave Harris explains the details for a potential indoor pool during a meeting Tuesday.

GLEN ELLYN – The Glen Ellyn Park District Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a construction referendum on the November ballot, the funds from which would be used to build an indoor pool.

The district will put the issue of a pool to a community vote. The referendum will be for $13.5 million. The life of the bond is not yet known, but officials estimate it would be between 12 and 14 years.

District Executive Director Dave Harris said the referendum will be financed by replacing a tax levy that is set to expire, so taxes would stay the same rather than decreasing.

Harris illustrated the situation in a previous interview by offering the relevant numbers for the owner of a $400,000 house. Such a homeowner pays about $583 in property taxes now. If the referendum passed, that tax rate would stay the same. If not, it would decrease about $146.

The measure was approved by a 6-0 vote. Commissioner Melissa Creech was not present at the meeting, but in a statement she emailed to the board, she said she would have voted in favor of placing the issue on the November ballot.

Members of the Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative, who have been the driving force behind getting the idea to its current stage, attended the meeting to voice support for the measure.

Claudia Brown, a Glen Ellyn resident and initiative member, said she has young kids who would love to be able to swim in an indoor pool.

"The pool would benefit our family tremendously," Brown said.

Initiative Chairman Rob Pieper called Tuesday the "second most important day" in the history of the indoor pool discussion. The most important day would be election day.

Existing Glen Ellyn locations with pools are "limited facilities," Pieper said, that could not accommodate all the needs that could be met by an indoor pool.

The entire building would be 36,459 square feet, and would include seating for competitions, office space, party rooms and deck space.

It would feature an eight-lane pool, measuring 121 feet long by 25 yards wide. Depth would range from 4.5 feet to 13 feet. The pool could be used for swimming laps, competitions or training. A separate pool, which would be 30 feet by 60 feet, would be a warm water pool used for swimming lessons or therapy.

The pool building would be added on to the back of the Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center and would take up 4 to 5 acres of land.

But several community members took issue with the amount of taxes they are currently paying.

Glen Ellyn resident Tom Voltaggio suggested the board save up money in its reserves for five years and use that to offset the costs associated with a referendum.

"The bottom line is we need to find more creative funding methods," he said.

Al D'Ambrosio said he didn't think everyone in the community should be forced to pay for a leisure facility they may not use.

"The people who want leisure willingly pay for it," he said.

D'Ambrosio said he also felt like all the taxes he and other residents had to pay were taking a toll.

"Our taxes are really high. So high, I've heard people … talk about leaving Glen Ellyn," he said.

John Creswell has four children under the age of 10 who regularly use Sunset Pool, but he said that if an indoor pool opened up, they would stick to the outdoor facility.

"It's a very small subset [that wants the pool] and you're asking everyone to pay for it," Creswell said.

Commissioner Kathy Cornell said she had "mixed feelings" on the issue. She said she could see the advantages a pool could bring, but was concerned with the amount of money it would cost to build.

The commissioners all made similar statements about leaving the issue up to the voters.

"This board wanted to know what the community really thinks," said board President Gary Mayo.

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