Lake Park High School officials say they don't know exactly what comes next in their long-running quest to build an indoor aquatic center.
For now, though, the most pressing pool-related concern has shifted to finding a place for next year's swimming and diving teams to practice and compete.
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Administrators, school board members and leaders of a group that pushed for a pool said Wednesday they were "disappointed" by unofficial results from Tuesday's primary election that showed about 57 percent of voters opposed borrowing and tax increase measures that would have supported pool construction and operation.
"Everyone is heartbroken because we really felt we'd done a good job of getting the word out and letting people make a good choice based on the facts," said Lisa Gregor, president of People for a Pool.
Tuesday's election marked the third time -- and the second time in less than a year -- that Lake Park voters have turned down construction of an indoor pool. This time the facility was estimated at $9.1 million for a 23,500-square-foot addition with two pools and space for 330 spectators at Lake Park's east campus.
Superintendent Lynne Panega and school board President Bob Marino said administrators and board members now will begin considering short-term and long-term next steps. Without the $8.5 million loan and $390,000 a year in additional tax revenue the school sought from voters, Panega and Marino said the money is just not there to begin building a pool.
"Realistically, the board is not in a position to provide funding to support the construction or operations of a pool," Panega said. "We're disappointed but we definitely acknowledge and respect the community's voice."
With no pool in sight, Panega said officials must determine where the swimming and diving teams will have their home. A pool the school previously used at College of DuPage is set to be available after renovations, but the only practice time offered is 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. -- too early for high school students to get in a full practice after class.
Panega said the athletics office will consider options including facilities at Streamwood and Hoffman Estates high schools, where Lake Park has been renting space for its swimmers and divers this year.
While People for a Pool had been mobilizing residents in favor of building a pool, some taxpayers voiced concerns about whether now was the right time to borrow $8.5 million and raise taxes. And at least two local Republican precinct committeemen, Ed Levato and Sam Tornatore, suggested voting against both pool-related ballot questions on the sample ballots they distributed to voters.
Levato said voters have spoken against a pool in the past, including in the local election last April. So his personal recommendation, unrelated to his elected position as Bloomingdale Township supervisor, was to oppose the pool, which he said is "a nice luxury but it's not a necessity."
People for a Pool's Gregor said she wishes voters thought more about the value an aquatic center could have provided for students and community members instead of only focusing on the cost.
While Marino said the community is missing out on an opportunity to get more use out of the high school, he found a couple benefits in the process of bringing the pool to a vote this week.
"It was a good exercise in community volunteerism for our kids," Marino said. "I guess it's also a life lesson, too, that sometimes things fail."