Voters in Lake Park High School District 108 will decide next Tuesday whether the latest effort to build an indoor aquatic center at the Roselle school will be successful.
Two referendum questions on the March 18 primary ballot ask if voters will support a proposal to borrow $8.5 million to build the pool and a tax rate increase to provide $390,000 a year to operate it.
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The district proposes construction of a 23,500-square-foot facility with an eight-lane competition pool and a smaller pool with warmer water for a total of $9.1 million. Officials have said the district would close the gap between the amount it seeks to borrow and the total construction cost using funds from its reserves.
The aquatic center would be built at Lake Park's east campus on Medinah Road with seating for 330 spectators, locker rooms and family changing areas, offices and entrances from both inside and outside the school. Public lap swimming hours and time for programs run by the Bloomingdale, Itasca, Medinah and Roselle park districts would be built into the pool's schedule.
As Election Day nears, pool plans are drawing both supporters and skeptics.
Supporters have formed a citizens group called People for a Pool, which has worked to register student voters and pass out information about the benefits of the proposed aquatic center. They say it would give a home to the 105 members of Lake Park's girls and boys swimming and diving teams, provide all athletes a place to rehabilitate injuries in water and make water safety education available to all of Lake Park's roughly 3,000 students.
Lisa Gregor of Itasca, president of People for a Pool, said an indoor aquatic center is an amenity Lake Park lacks when compared with similar suburban high schools.
"It seems like this is something that's really missing from Lake Park," Gregor said. "You have to think it makes our homes more desirable to have a high school that has all the components you would expect a large, really well-regarded suburban high school to have."
Opponents question whether now is a good time to borrow $8.5 million to build a pool, especially because paying interest on the 10-year loan will cost the district an additional $2.8 million.
District residents who oppose construction of a pool, like Phil Van Duyne of Roselle, say voters already have spoken out against increased costs, turning down previous pool referendum questions as recently as last April.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jeff O'Connell estimates taxes would increase a total of $25.04 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home and $37.56 a year for the owner of a $300,000 home if voters approve both the idea of borrowing $8.5 million and the tax increase to bring in additional funding to operate the pool.
Both questions must be approved for the pool to be built. Superintendent Lynne Panega said the facility could be finished and ready for use by August 2015 if voters so choose.