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updated: 4/10/2014 1:32 PM

No Wing Park pool, new farm animals in Elgin this summer

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  • The Wing Park Family Aquatic Center in Elgin will not open this summer due to repairs.

       The Wing Park Family Aquatic Center in Elgin will not open this summer due to repairs.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The Wing Park Family Aquatic Center in Elgin will not open this summer due to repairs.

       The Wing Park Family Aquatic Center in Elgin will not open this summer due to repairs.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • People will be able this summer to visit farm animals at Lords Park Zoo in Elgin for the first time in five years. In this 2008 photo, Rich Wicklein of Elgin drops a shovel he used to clean out a barn at the zoo.

       People will be able this summer to visit farm animals at Lords Park Zoo in Elgin for the first time in five years. In this 2008 photo, Rich Wicklein of Elgin drops a shovel he used to clean out a barn at the zoo.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 

Elgin residents won't be able to use the Wing Park pool this summer, but will get the chance to visit farm animals at Lords Park Zoo for the first time in five years.

The pool's closing had been in question pending necessary repairs, which were delayed by the unpredictable weather, City Manager Sean Stegall said at Wednesday's city council meeting.

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"We can all expect there will be some very disappointed users of that facility," Stegall said.

The pool -- formally known as the Wing Park Family Aquatic Center -- needs sandblasting, painting, a new lift for people with disabilities, a new pool heater and more. The cost of the work is about $865,000.

Councilman John Steffen inquired about expanding the hours of the Lords Park pool. Stegall replied that might be done on a limited basis.

Councilman Rich Dunne said he wants Elgin residents to get priority for pool use over nonresidents.

The farm animal exhibit at Lords Park Zoo closed in 2009 due to budget constraints, Elgin management analyst Aaron Cosentino said.

The zoo's permanent residents are bison, deer and elk.

The new exhibit -- featuring a miniature donkey, a few goats, two cows, a llama, three sheep and a pig -- will be a pilot program running June 7 through Aug. 15. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The animals, all lent to the zoo by local farms, will be in a contained area in the north end of the zoo.

The exhibit won't be a petting zoo, Cosentino said. "There is no human contact with the animals," he said.

The exhibit will cost just more than $24,000, the bulk of it stemming from $18,000 in staff costs, Cosentino said. That includes three part-time interns, two volunteer supervisors and an assistant volunteer supervisor.

The Friends of Lords Park Zoo organization has raised an estimated $20,000 in in-kind donations, he said.

Steffen praised the fact the project doesn't rely on grant money stemming from the city's portion of Grand Victoria Casino proceeds. "It's great to see all the volunteers step up," he said.

Dunne pointed out the city will continue to be responsible for the zoo's upkeep.

The new exhibit will be very educational, Councilman Terry Gavin said. "I think it's a really good thing."

The Elgin Public Museum is planning programming related to the new exhibit, Cosentino said.

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