Fox Valley pools open for summer with new features

After being closed last summer for repairs, Wing Park Pool in Elgin will reopen this weekend looking almost "brand new," said Randy Reopelle, director of Elgin Parks and Recreation.

The pool vessels have been painted. The amenities have been fixed. The slide has been resurfaced.

But the most important renovations won't be recognized by the general public, Reopelle said.

In 2013, Wing Park Pool shut down about three weeks early because of problems with the pumps, said Greg Bruggeman, senior recreation supervisor for aquatics for the city of Elgin. Since then, the pumps have been replaced.

"We won't have problems with pumps breaking down. We won't have to close the pool," Reopelle said, adding that the new pumps are also more efficient. "To the average swimmer, they're probably not going to notice that, but it's important."

Additionally, floors have been refinished with no-slip epoxy to prevent kids from slipping.

"Having a pool that you can rely on day in and day out is huge for us and the citizens of Elgin," Bruggeman said.

The pool's renovations cost the city about $865,000, he added.

The city also used the pool's downtime as an opportunity to improve its conditions for visitors with disabilities. Bruggeman said the pool has added new chairlifts, so people in wheelchairs can use the facilities.

"We're really excited about providing people with special needs the opportunity to swim," he said.

Reopelle added that new walkways and railings have brought the pool to nearly full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wing Park isn't the only aquatic center with new amenities this summer. Sunset Pool in Geneva has added some new features such as an aquatic playground and two climbing walls, said Traci Wicks, director of marketing and public relations at the Geneva Park District.

Wicks said the park district considered adding these features because of user feedback over the course of several years.

"A common theme was adding more amenities for older kids," she said. "That's where we came up with the climbing wall."

One climbing wall is 5 feet tall, and the other is 12 feet tall. They were added to appeal to kids ages 8-15, Wicks said.

Other new additions include toddler swings, water cannons and interactive water buckets.

Sunset Pool opened Saturday, May 23, and nearly 1,000 people attended that first weekend. Wicks said many staff members received comments from attendees about their excitement for the new amenities.

Some local pools also provide swim lessons throughout the summer. The indoor pool at the Centre of Elgin, for example, will be making some changes to its swim curriculum this summer with a new program, Elgin Swim Institute, Bruggeman said. Instead of having lessons that are 30-40 minutes long, each lesson will be 55 minutes.

The Stingray Bay Family Aquatic Center in Huntley also updated its swim program to Starfish Swimming. This new program includes swim curriculum developed from the Starfish Aquatics Institute, said Debbie Kraus, recreation director at Huntley Park District.

"Starfish Swimming breaks down the lessons even further and gives children more of an opportunity to advance," Kraus said.

However, as for any outdoor pool, Stingray Bay's hours for both open swim and swim lessons will be dependent on weather.

"Hopefully the sunshine will be coming," Kraus said. "That is our biggest wish."

Pool hours, fees in the Tri-Cities

Pool hours, fees in the Fox Valley

  Steve Wit and son, Isaac, 5, of Batavia zip down an inner tube water slide at the Sunset Pool in Geneva. This year, Sunset Pool has added some new features such as an aquatic playground and two climbing walls. Laura Stoecker/, 2011
  Aaron Jackson, left, and Don Ocker, both of Raindrop Products install the new custom water feature at Sunset Pool Tuesday. Typically the Geneva pool attracts between 50,000 and 80,000 visitors each season. In addition to the new custom water feature, some of the upgrades this year include two climbing walls, a spray canon, tipping water coconuts and toddler swings. Brian Hill/
  After being closed last summer for repairs, Wing Park pool in Elgin will reopen this weekend. Brian Hill/ ¬
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