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posted: 11/14/2013 12:01 AM

Officials: Elgin's Wing Park pool needs extensive repairs

Staff members propose closing it for entire season

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Elgin City Council debated closing the Wing Park pool in Elgin next summer -- for either part or all of the season -- so extensive maintenance and repair work can be done.

Staff members proposed closing the pool, formally known as the Wing Park Family Aquatic Center, for the entire season, but a couple of council members expressed concerns about that during a special budget meeting on Wednesday.

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The pool needs new water pumps, sandblasting and repainting, and a lift to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, totaling $793,000 to be paid in existing bond funds, Elgin CFO Colleen Lavery said.

Officials thought it would be too costly to open the pool for just a short time, and it might be difficult to communicate specific scheduling to residents, City Manager Sean Stegall said.

"This was a decision we really struggled with recommending," he said.

However, after getting feedback from council members, Stegall said he'd present more options to the council as the 2014 budget process moves along. The city's fiscal year starts Jan. 1.

Councilwoman Anna Moeller suggested patrons who normally use the Wing Park pool be allowed to swim at The Centre of Elgin during a closure.

Elgin residents should have priority when signing up for swimming lessons at the city's two other pools, Councilman Rich Dunne said. He also suggested finding other summer jobs for youth who might usually work at the Wing Park pool.

This past season, the Wing Park pool closed early in August due to pump problems.

The pool opened in 2000, and it requires unique features like a second set of pumps because it's in a flood plain, said Elgin building maintenance superintendent Rich Hoke. The plan is to buy more modern pumps, he said.

The sandblasting and painting work isn't merely aesthetic, Hoke added. "The paint is peeling; it's like there are razor blades in the bottom of the pool," he said.

Overall, the proposed 2014 recreation budget estimates revenues at $10.6 million and expenses at $8.6 million.

Other major projects are $600,000 for ADA-related improvements to softball fields at the Elgin Sports Complex, $450,000 to replace the HVAC system at The Centre of Elgin's pool, and $119,000 in ADA-related improvements at Douglas Park, Lavery said.

Corporation Counsel William Cogley said the city's legal department got a complaint about the lack of accessibility at the sports complex.

"Failure to comply with the ADA exposes the city to liability," he said.

Councilman John Prigge asked if the money budgeted for Douglas Park could be used to accelerate the work at Wing Park pool, possibly by working overnight. Stegall replied it likely would be difficult to find a contractor for that.

Prigge added that performing ADA-related improvements at Lords Park, which is not part of the 2014 budget, should take precedence over any work at Douglas Park.

Moeller agreed. "I live close to that area, and I have yet to see one child using (Douglas Park)," she said.

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