officials are confident that needed repairs to the Lake Bluff Pool, and Aquatic Facility will increase its use, which has seen a significant decline over the past several years.
In 2010, 13,390 swimmers used the pool during its swimming season from June through August – a 30 percent decrease from two years prior in 2008, when the pool had an overall attendance of 18,838.
The most significant decrease came in 2010, coinciding with the absence of the tot pool, which was closed that summer due to maintenance issues.
“We have a lot of young families that used the tot pool,” explained Dave Peterson, director of facilities and recreational services for the . “People wanted to give it (the pool) a try, but just weren’t comfortable bringing young children without a pool that has zero depth.”
Zero-depth pools also are called beach-entry pools, because like a beach, one can walk into the pool without the use of a ladder or steps.
This past season saw a continuation of the decline in the pool’s attendance. By the end of July, the park district recorded attendance of 6,769 — a 40 percent decrease from 2010.
The decline in attendance equates to a reduction in revenue to the park district, with earnings from the swimming season dropping from $100,000 in 2009 to $64,000 this summer.
Park District officials believe several factors besides the tot pool can be attributed to the user decline, including the significant rainfall during 2011’s summer months, and the downturn in the economy.
However, district officials believe that many residents are now using aquatic facilities in neighboring communities such as Libertyville and Highland Park.
“We’ve heard they’re going to other neighboring pools,” said Peterson.
The question is, will much-needed repairs to Lake Bluff’s aquatic facility bring swimmers back?
“Absolutely,” Peterson said, citing data collected from several focus groups that were conducted in 2010, .
“All of the plans for the pool include a zero-depth entry,” explained Peterson. “It’s a big attraction for the families that have little children.”
According to Peterson, the decline in attendance is primarily due to the loss of those young families. Attendance of lap swimmers, and families with older children has stayed the same.
In recent weeks, park district officials have taken steps toward alleviating the issues facing the aquatic facility by .
They expect to receive both estimates in October, and then will hold meetings with the community to help determine the next steps to take regarding the future of the aquatic facility.
According to Ron Salski, executive director of the , they will monitor the condition of the aging pool closely and later will determine whether or not it will open again for the 2012 swimming season.
“Our plan is to open up next year, but we still have to re-evaluate the financial impact of this season,” he said.