Lake Bluff Aquatic Facility Fix: $1 Million to $3.2 Million

Price tag varies depending on short- or long-term solutions; brand-new facility would cost more than $6 million.

Among the many scenarios offered by two architectural firms over the future of the aquatic facility, the one they both indicated to the board of commissioners was not to sit idle and do nothing.

“That’s not recommended,” said Ron Lee, of SRBL Architects of Chicago. “We’re not sure the facility would last five years. The deterioration would accelerate.”

Lee, who spoke first before the board Monday night, based the recommendation on the 40 percent drop in attendance from a year ago or a loss of $60,000 in revenue.

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One of the primary reasons was the absence of a wading pool, which was not open last summer because it was leaking 12,000 gallons of water a day, according to Lee from discussions that SRBL Architects had with park district administrators and staff.

Park District Outlines Timeline

The board heard from both Lee and Pat Callahan, of Studio GC Architecture of Chicago, after the Aquatic Facility Advisory Board chose them from a half dozen reviewed earlier this fall.

After Monday night’s two presentations, which included questions from residents, Lake Bluff Park District Executive Director Ron Salski said another public meeting would be held in late November, after Thanksgiving, where both architects will be present at the same time to review their presentations again and take questions from the community.

From there, the park district board will accept the final reports from both architectural firms in December, and the board will discuss them with more public input during the first quarter of 2012.

The board will decide during the second quarter of 2012 which architectural plan to follow for the aquatic facility. That plan will be added to the park district’s 20-year capital replacement and improvement plan, which will be finalized by the third quarter of 2012.

Since losing a referendum in November 2010, when voters opposed a new pool and bathhouse by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, the park district has changed the focus.

“Think of it as an aquatic facility,” said Doug Nickels, park district board president, before the start of Monday night’s meeting.

Dollars and Cents

Both Lee and Callahan broke down their presentations by pinpointing strengths and weaknesses for the pool, bathhouse, wading pool, concessions and community room.

Specifically, each firm provided short- and long-term cost estimates for the aquatic facility, the community room and a master plan design for building an entire new facility.

  • The short-term renovation for the aquatic facility lasting up to five years would cost approximately $1 million (SRBL was slightly higher at $1,119,176).
  • A long-term renovation for the aquatic facility lasting up to 20 years would range from $2.9 million from SRBL estimates to $3.2 million by Studio GC.
  • The short-term renovation for the community room lasting up to five years would be $55,518 by SRBL, and $50,000 by Studio GC.
  • The long-term renovation for the community room lasting up to 20 years would cost $315, 841 by SRBL, and $450,000 by Studio GC.
  • To build a new facility, SRBL placed a price tag of $6.8 million, while Studio GC came in at $6.2 million.

Some of the observations specific to those cost estimates included:

Main Pool

Both Lee and Callahan said the test results on the main pool indicated the concrete is solid, does not have to be replaced and can be renovated.

“We’re confident the main pool would be OK for at least 15 years,” Lee said during the question-answer portion of the presentation. Callahan indicated its shelf life would be 20 years.

The pool is leaking 6,000 gallons of water a day, according to Lee. He blamed the leakage on a deteriorating pool liner, which is near the end of its lifespan. Both architects also noted the stainless steel gutters around the pool need repair to eliminate the leakage.

Wading Pool

This is the one area where the architects offered completely different approaches. Lee indicated the wading pool is not salvageable because of the excessive water leakage. However, he suggested replacing it by building a spray pool on top of the existing wading pool, offering the same type of zero-water depth suitable for younger children.

Callahan’s plan focused on fixing the wading pool with new piping, new filtration and new decking at a cost of $500,000.

Community Room

Both architects noted the leaking roof over the community room is in need of repair. Inside the community room, water has gotten under the foundation, causing heaving of the tile near the windows. The walls lack insulation, causing issues with the heating/cooling unit.

However, Lee went further and said, “the roof is in very poor condition,” and recommended the roof be replaced at a cost of nearly $316,000.

Callahan did not recommend replacing the roof, but indicated repairs to the roof and refurbishing the floor, changing it to a wooden floor, would cost $150,000.


Both architects said upgrades to the locker rooms and shower areas are needed to bring them up to code, plus repairs are needed on heaved floors, rusting doors and loose tile.


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