The upcoming construction of a new swimming pool at Libertyville High School is going to inconvenience many students planning to drive to school during the 2017-18 school year, and could impact traffic surrounding the campus.
Traditionally, seniors have been able to park at the school, which is on Route 176 at Dawes Street, and juniors could park at the nearby Brainerd athletic facility. Brainerd serves as an overflow lot for seniors, too.
But 50 on-campus student parking spots will be eliminated during the pool construction, so more seniors will have to park at Brainerd -- and juniors won't have parking privileges there for at least one year.
The $21.5 million project, which is set to begin in late August or early September, also will cause some traffic-related problems because one of the entrances to campus will be closed until the pool is done in spring 2019.
"The closing of that road during the construction period will definitely impact the flow of traffic at LHS, especially in the morning before the start of school," said Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric.
Bigger pool wanted
Built in 1971, the current pool is at the rear of Libertyville High. In addition to the school's swimming, diving and water polo teams, the pool is used by students in physical education classes, members of various aquatic clubs and people taking private swim classes, among others.
The pool is six lanes wide and 25 yards long, which is too small for conference swimming competitions. It's also not deep enough for diving competitions, so divers practice and compete at Vernon Hills High.
Insufficient spectator seating and poor ventilation have been concerns, too.
Those shortcomings will disappear with the new pool.
To be built in a 38,000-square foot natatorium at the front of the school, the pool will have eight lanes and be 50 meters long -- the same length that's used for Olympic competition. It also will have a deep section for diving.
Two movable bulkheads will be used to divide the pool for practices and competitions.
"The swimming and diving teams can practice at the same time," Athletic Director Briant Kelly said.
And being larger, the new pool will better accommodate students in physical education and outdoor education classes, the latter of whom use the pool for kayaking, Kelly said.
A mezzanine seating area with room for 425 spectators is planned. And a modern ventilation system should improve air quality.
Although it will bring many aquatic enhancements, the project will leave juniors high and dry when it comes to parking.
The number of student parking spaces at the school will temporarily drop to 300, from 350.
As such, Brainerd's 92 spaces will be reserved for seniors who can't secure on-campus parking.
District 128 officials don't know how long the parking restrictions will be in place.
"Details of parking are still being determined and will be reviewed as the project progresses," Todoric said.
Some juniors will be able to park at Nicholas-Dowden Park, which is about a half-mile from campus on Dymond Road. The park has about 40 spaces, and they're available to any student thanks to a long-standing agreement with Libertyville School District 70, which owns the lot, Todoric said.
Superintendent Prentiss Lea will meet with Libertyville officials this week to discuss other parking options.
Entrance to close
Traffic problems at the school also are expected when construction starts.
That's because a one-way entrance and narrow on-campus road near what once was the District 128 administration building will be closed.
The main entrance at Dawes Street will stay open, as will an entrance near Linden Lane and Sunset Drive on the campus's east side.
The closure of the one-way entrance will be a particular problem in the morning, as hundreds of students, staffers and parents try to enter campus before school.
Anticipating traffic congestion at that time of day, officials will limit use of the Linden entrance in the morning to employees and seniors parking on campus, Todoric said. Parents or visitors will have to use the main entrance. The Linden entrance will be open to anyone in the afternoon.
Libertyville police know the road closure and resulting changes to traffic flow may affect drivers on Route 176, which already is busy throughout the day. Chief Clinton Herdegen said the department is working with school and village staffers on the problem.
"Collectively we will developing recommendations to help deal with the situation," Herdegen said.