Homeless people are part of why Elgin may spend $500K on rec center

The Elgin City Council on Wednesday will consider spending more than $500,000 for work at the Edward Schock Centre of Elgin, including some to prevent homeless people from having access to locker rooms and showers.

A lobby remodel would cost $213,777 and a restroom/locker room renovation would cost $306,824, under a proposal for a job order contract with the Chicago company F.H. Paschen.

The pool locker rooms on the east side of the building are accessible to the general public, and homeless people have been using the showers and storing their belongings in lockers, according to a memo to the city council from Building Maintenance Superintendent Rich Hoke and Parks and Recreation Director Maria Cumpata.

Under the construction plan, the restrooms would be accessible to the public, but the locker rooms could be accessed only from the pool area.

"It has become a known issue that the locker rooms are being used by people who are in the building for no specific purpose, which is not the intended use of the locker rooms," Cumpata said.

Under the plan, "patrons in the facility for specific purposes and programming will have a more secured locker room to use, as originally intended," she said.

The memo also cites locker room thefts as a reason for the plan, but measures taken in February appear to have made a difference. There were 30 thefts reported in the pool locker rooms from September to February, including 19 involving intact locks. The city replaced 32 half-sized lockers that had a lock defect with 16 full-length lockers in February, and since March only three thefts were reported, all from unlocked lockers, according to city data.

The lobby remodel would provide "a new and refreshed look" and "better flow and more efficient use of the space," according to the memo. That includes a new shape for the front counter, new wall panels and new vinyl flooring. An office would be added for the customer service supervisor.

The city council last year approved spending $110,787 for lobby work that included reusing the casework of the front counter. However, that was delayed "due to conflicts with contractor schedules," Hoke said. Since then, structural damage caused by wear and tear has been discovered, so the casework needs to be replaced, he said.

The building opened in November 2002 and is open to the public 100 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, with additional use for private rentals and after-hours functions, Cumpata said. "After 17 years, what we are seeing is just wear and tear on a heavily used facility," she said.

The city spent $600,000 in 2015 to remodel the fitness center and $1 million to renovate the pool in 2017. No additional major work is anticipated at this time, she added.

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