I heard a word I liked at the Park District’s unveiling of a proposed pool facility, “realistic.” That word came out of the mouth of an architect. That was a shocker and I can only hope that everyone who talked tonight understood the importance of telling the truth, not hiding anything, and making sure that people in the community can trust their actions.
I rushed to the meeting after work so I did not have time to grab a notebook. The following is off memory, so please take it with that in mind.
I heard some other things I liked; the Park District interviewed people who actually use the pool. They identified people who came to the pool and asked them for their opinions. There are pictures up in the hallway so those using the pool can see what is in the plans. There were people in the audience with some obviously wet pool hair who had comments. Others reminded the Park District Board that there are many senior citizens on fixed incomes who would find increases in property taxes difficult. I asked if the Park District had any money set aside and reminded them that there are people with low incomes in this community. Executive Director Cindy Capek described how they are “sensitive” to the needs of the community, they will try to keep the admissions costs down, and they work with families who do not have as much money so that they can still use the pool. They do not want to price anyone out and mentioned how other water parks elsewhere can be very expensive for families.
The pool plan is not inexpensive with a price tag that may run about $15 million. There is a desire to bond it but pay back the bonds within ten years, to get it over with quickly. In order for that to happen, they need a referendum because the Park District is not Home Rule like the city. Someone from the audience suggested that they please try to take donations. There might be a foundation set up in the future for that purpose. The proposed plan has a variety of facilities, a regular pool, a kiddie pool, one for diving, water slide, etc. Those actually sound like safe ideas, to separate the different activities into self-contained areas. Pools become dangerous when they are people swimming laps, diving, playing, and using a water slide all in one large space. Under the proposed plan, those activities would be separate.
So many people use the pool; the Park District should ask for their TIF money back to help defray costs. There are probably more people at the pool on one hot day than have ever gone to the skating rink, totaling every day since it opened.
I did notice one thing. I did not see anyone at the meeting who appeared to be of any under-represented groups (a.k.a. minorities). I saw kids who appeared to belong to minority groups there using the pool but none of their parents appeared to be in attendance. It is just something I noticed, which was probably just out of bad luck, with so many people working so many hours.