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updated: 12/18/2013 5:43 PM

Lake Park pool plan to appear on March ballot

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Another attempt will be made to sell voters on the idea of building an indoor swimming pool at Lake Park High School.

It's an effort that dates back to at least 1997, and will be the second time in a year voters have been asked to chip in for a pool, estimated to cost $8.5 million to build and $380,000 a year to operate it.

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As before, a group of residents and parents will help spread the message that the proposed pool at the Roselle school's east campus would be used for more than high school athletics. Area park districts are being consulted about reciprocal use plans.

The group, People for a Pool, argues that it's vital for the community to have an indoor pool because none of the area park districts have one.

"We still have the strong message that it would be a great benefit to our students and our community," said Lynne Panega, superintendent of Lake Park High School District 108.

Despite voters rejecting the pool idea in April, school board members this week agreed to put two questions related to the proposal on the March 18 ballot.

The first question will ask voters for permission to borrow the $8.5 million to construct the pool. The second will request a tax-rate increase to cover the estimated $380,000 needed annually to operate it.

Officials stress that both ballot questions must be approved in order for the pool to be built.

"If one passes and one doesn't, we don't do it," said Jeff O'Connell, the district's assistant superintendent for business services.

If both requests are approved, the owner of a $300,000 house would pay about $38 a year more to District 108, officials estimate. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $26 more annually.

The $8.5 million construction loan would be paid off in 10 years, officials said.

District officials still are working to finalize the footprint of the proposed facility. But it's expected to be about 19,000 square feet and house a 25-yard-by-59-foot pool, a four-lane warming pool and seating for more than 300 people.

Supporters will need to overcome a long history of failed proposals.

In 1991, the school board decided against using reserve cash to build an indoor pool. Six years later, voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan for a facility at Lake Park's west campus. Other suggestions that never materialized include a 2005 proposal that called on the school district to form a coalition with several villages and park districts to build a pool.

However, school officials say they were encouraged by the results of the April election. Roughly 55 percent of voters said no to two questions related to the proposed pool.

"The results of the last referendum were the closest they've ever been," Panega said. "That was viewed by Lake Park as a positive."

The issue of an indoor pool isn't going away, in part because Lake Park's swimming and diving teams need a facility.

Meanwhile, Panega says there's support for the pool plan from park districts within District 108's boundaries. The school district educates students from Bloomingdale, Roselle, Itasca, Medinah, Keeneyville, Wood Dale and Hanover Park.

Panega said school district officials already have met with representatives from the Roselle, Itasca, Bloomingdale and Medinah park districts. They will work with the park districts to identify community benefits and clarify when the public would have access to the pool.

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