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posted: 10/2/2013 4:52 PM

Consultant dives into feasibility study for indoor pool in Glen Ellyn

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Glen Ellyn Park District, which long has been lukewarm to the idea of an indoor swimming pool, is dipping its toes in the water once again.

Isaac Sports Group, a consulting firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is in town this week to launch a pool feasibility study funded by Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative, a grass-roots community group.

The consultant discussed its $24,000 study with park district officials on Tuesday night and on Wednesday toured nearby facilities and met with stakeholders in and around Glen Ellyn.

The firm plans to present its recommendations to the park district board in December.

Separate of the indoor pool study, the park district itself is paying the consultant $5,000 to conduct an analysis of its outdoor Sunset Pool facility and operations.

"This is the infancy portion of the study," park district Executive Director Dave Harris said.

Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative formed late last year in hopes of building support for an indoor pool from neighbors, elected officials and potential donors. Proponents say an indoor pool would create recreational opportunities for residents throughout the year. It also would keep swimmers from the Glenbard South/West boys and girls cooperative swim teams from having to drive to schools in Naperville or Oakbrook Terrace to practice.

The president of Isaac Sports Group, Stu Isaac, is a former all-American swimmer and women's swimming coach at the University of Michigan who also worked in sales and marketing for Speedo. On Wednesday he said he looked at possible park district pool sites within Glen Ellyn, including next to the Ackerman Recreation Center. The consultant also met with Glenbard High School District 87 officials to gauge their needs.

Isaac is the lead consultant on roughly 12 projects a year nationwide. Among those the company is working on is a proposed aquatics center in Kalamazoo, Mich. That project, which Stu Isaac said is "about six months ahead of Glen Ellyn's timeline," mirrors Glen Ellyn in that the consultant was enlisted by the nonprofit Kalamazoo Community Aquatics Initiative.

Isaac termed this part of the Glen Ellyn timeline "the discovery phase."

"The key is to identify the current facilities, the current programming and what their needs are," Isaac said. "Then you need to determine the cost to build and maintain, and then the next key is the financial model -- the cost of operation and maintenance, the revenue a facility can generate and whether it can be self-sustaining."

The idea of an indoor pool in Glen Ellyn is hardly a new one. A referendum question to build a pool at Glenbard West failed several decades ago. Plans to include a pool with a field house addition at the school in the late 1990s never got off the ground. Harris said there has been interest in building an indoor pool in town for close to 25 years, but in previous cases it ultimately was deemed too expensive and rejected.

Park district commissioners supported the study, but cautioned that the community as a whole may not get behind paying for an indoor pool that by some estimates could cost more than $5 million.

Once the consultant presents its data, Harris said, the park district will determine whether it believes the pool is beneficial to the community and, if so, how it could be funded.

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