With start times of 5:30 a.m. and some nights stretching to 9 p.m. during the week, pool receives a workout ranging from day camps to swim clubs to swim lessons.
This summer the nearly 40-year tradition continues with the pool slated to open June 2 through Labor Day.
After hearing from a pair of consultants on the future of the aquatic facility late last year, Lake Bluff Park District officials and its board were told that for the present, the main pool can continue to be used.
- See related story: Lake Bluff Aquatic Facility Fix: $1 Million to $3.2 Million
“We expect to get several more years with the current condition of the pool,” said Dave Peterson, director of facilities and recreation services for the Lake Bluff Park District.
Both consultants indicated the pool itself is structurally sound, but the pool liner is on its last legs. Peterson said the liner was installed in 1998. In his report, consultant Ron Lee of SRBL Architects of Chicago estimated the liner was leaking 6,000 gallons a day last summer.
“You expect to get 10 to 12 years from one, and we are in year 14,” Peterson said. “However, during the two inspections of the pool, they both said it looked good. We can still get 2-3 more years out of it.”
The liner will be patched for the coming season after the pool is drained in May, power washed, and the gutter caulked.
Camps Revolve Around Pool
The pool remains an important cog in the park district’s programs. Both the Lake Bluff Day Camp (ages 5-10) and the Lil Sprouts Camp (ages 3-5) are among five park district camps that incorporate swim lessons into their programs. Both Lake Bluff Day Camp and Lil Sprouts offer four sessions starting in mid-June through mid-August, five days a week, attracting 120 kids per session for the former and 30-40 for the latter, Peterson said.
“If we didn’t have a main pool, we would take a 50 percent hit in our camps,” Peterson said. “It’s been such a big part of our camp experience.”
The Lil Sprouts Camp used to attract better numbers, but a decline began when the Tot Pool was closed down in 2010 due to extensive repairs needed, Peterson said.
“They were the ones who went to the Tot Pool and used it not only in morning time but during the day,” Peterson said. “We’ve probably seen a 50 percent cut in our participants.”
The two consultants also came forth with ideas on how to either replace or repair the existing Tot Pool area. In the latter case, the price tag started at $500,000.
Tot Pool Loss in Dollars, Passes
The lack of the Tot pool also has cost the Park District at the gate in both memberships and dollars, according to Peterson. The last year the Tot pool was open in 2009, $100,000 was sold in pool passes. Last year, the take was $64,000. Resident passes fell from 1,245 in 2009 to 1,156 in 2011
The impact extended to Lake Forest, which does not have a pool. Peterson said of the non-resident passes purchased, more than 90 percent are by residents. In 2009, 382 non-resident passes were sold compared to 102 in 2011.
“A lot of the younger families we lost,” Peterson said. “We had that nice Tot pool that had a gate around it, kept them secure in there. Mom and Das could sit in there and felt very comfortable that the child had to stay within those confines.”
Last year the Tot Pool area was filled with sand as a play area, and it will return again this summer.
Peterson said special events will also be part of the pool season, including Father’s Day, Fourth of July and Flick and Float Movie on July 27. There are also themed days of fun and games on Thursdays, and there will be extended hours from noon to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
Season pass prices from last year remain intact for this summer. A pool pass for 2012 if purchased before May 15 costs $65 for individuals, and $180 for a family of four. After May 15, prices increase to $70 for individuals, $200 for the family of four.
Going forward, the park district has undertaken a 20-year capital replacement plan that will include the aquatic facility. Both consultants have indicated it will cost $3 million to repair and improve the facility, $6 million to build a new complex.
A citizen’s task force has assisted in evaluating all park district areas, including Sunset Beach, and a consultant has been hired to present a conditions report in April. The board will hear the report in May or June.
Two years ago, to build a new pool and make other capital improvements, but voters defeated it.