Buffalo Grove High School is less than six months away from debuting its new $11 million swimming pool, the largest addition to a Northwest Suburban High School District 214 school in more than a decade.
Work on the new pool began last June and as of Thursday only one wall from the old building is still standing. The new, 29,750-square-foot natatorium will have a larger pool, more seating, concessions, bathrooms and more, said Ted Birren, director of operations.
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The old pool barely had room for fans to sit in a few bleachers on the pool deck, and the only bathrooms available were in the team locker rooms, he said.
While there's still a lot of work to be done, Birren said the project is on schedule, with the pool shell and underground work completed and the upstairs seating area being installed now.
The new second-story seating area will have room for 500 spectators, bathrooms and a concessions area, Birren said.
"There really isn't a bad seat in the house," he said.
The downstairs area will also feature new boys and girls locker rooms as well as coaching offices and storage.
The new pool will be 8 lanes wide, an upgrade from the 6-lane pool of the past. It will have three diving boards where the old pool had one, and a 14.5-foot diving well instead of 11.5, Birren said.
The pool will be 40 yards long with a movable bulkhead to divide the pool and allow for swim practices or meets to go on at the same time as diving.
"It's going to be a very attractive facility," Birren said.
The pool, which will hold about 500,000 gallons of water, is expected to be complete in early August before the fall swimming and diving seasons begin, he said.
Birren said the $11 million project is on budget as of now.
In planning for the new pool, District 214 officials talked with students, coaches, parents and nearby schools.
The old pool opened at the same time as the school in 1973 and was no longer complying with code, Birren said.
That hasn't stopped some parents from complaining to the school board about money being spent on pool renovations at BGHS when there are three high schools in District 214 that don't have pools at all.
Rolling Meadows, Prospect and Hersey High schools do not have swimming pools, so their swimming, diving and water polo teams practice at other District 214 schools or at the Arlington Heights Park District's Olympic Aquatic Center. Swimming is not a part of physical education at the schools without pools.
Building pools at the other high schools would be expensive, but it's not out of the question.
The district is in the midst of listening sessions about how to spend excess reserve funds. Meetings are being held to ask residents for ideas about academics, facilities, athletics and other projects.
After those meetings a task force will report back to the school board with suggestions.
Birren said the cost to add pools to schools that do not already have them could be higher than $11 million, but it's too early to know.
The new pool at Buffalo Grove will be used by more than just high school students. Under an agreement with the Buffalo Grove Park District, swim lessons and other swimming and diving groups will be able to schedule time in the water.
A larger, updated pool also could make BGHS more attractive to the IHSA for sectional and regional conference meets, though it won't be large enough to host state meets, Birren said.
"It's going to be exciting," he said. "It's been exciting to see it come up from the ground."
Students at Buffalo Grove are also getting a firsthand look at the construction process, said Tom Arseneau, building and grounds supervisor at the school. An architecture class at the school has visited the construction site several times, studied the blueprints and talked about the building process throughout the year, he said.
"It's all a very neat learning experience for them," Arseneau said. "They don't often get the opportunity to see something this big getting built."