Pool expansion key part of planned $3.5 project at Lakeview Fitness Center in Vernon Hills

The Vernon Hills Park District has the green light to proceed with an extensive renovation and expansion at its Lakeview Fitness Center.

Village officials recently informally approved site, landscaping and architectural design plans for a $3.5 million project at 700 Lakeview Parkway in the Continental Executive Park.

It will be the second park district overhaul of the former Central Lake YMCA, which was slated to close because of ongoing money issues. With an interest-free loan from the village, the district acquired the property and 30,000-square-foot building and opened Jan. 1, 2013.

The planned expansion/renovation features a 3,300-square-foot addition at the southeast corner of the building for staff offices and expanded fitness space to include a covered outdoor fitness area.

“Since the COVID inception, we're running classes outdoors under a tent in the back parking lot,” said Jeff Fougerousse, executive director. “Those are extremely popular.”

The project is scheduled to start in March and continue until October 2022. It's being funded with a $2.24 million state grant and park district impact fees collected from several developments, including the ongoing Hawthorn 2.0 mall makeover.

Indoor fitness space will double under the plan, but gutting and expanding the swimming pool is the biggest component of extensive interior upgrades.

The pool has four, 7-foot-wide lap lanes and a zero-depth area with a large play structure and slide. Two lap lanes will be added for a total of six. All the lanes will be 8 feet wide, allowing two people to use a single lane at once, Fougerousse added.

The slide, which sits on a 20-by-20-foot deck, will be removed. Small play features will be included in a new zero-depth area. Associated work includes a new pool deck surface and upgraded spa, whirlpool and sauna.

Fougerousse said the pool will close for about five months beginning in May but stressed the other facilities will remain open during construction. Plans informally approved by the village board also call for expanding the parking lot by adding 22 spaces for a total of 133. A portion of a berm will be removed and landscaping adjusted to allow for better views of the addition from busy Lakeview Parkway.

The annexation agreement for the property in the business park requires village board approval of site, landscaping and architectural plans but not a public hearing before the advisory planning and zoning commission. An ordinance making the approval official will be prepared for future board action.

“We think the project is a great improvement to the facility,” said Mike Atkinson, community development director.

The park district applied for a Park and Recreational Facility Construction grant in January 2019. This past March, the district learned it was the only entity in Lake County or any collar county to receive the funding.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which administers the grants, said it had received 91 applications totaling $141.5 million for $25 million available funding.

Fougerousse said Lakeview Fitness Center memberships are down from the typical 2,000 mark as there is still some pandemic-related hesitancy, but memberships are slowing increasing.

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A rendering shows the proposed building addition at the Lakeview Fitness Center in Vernon Hills. The $3.5 million project includes substantial interior work featuring an expansion of the indoor pool. Courtesy of Vernon Hills Park District
  The Vernon Hills Park District has received informal approval to proceed with a $3.5 million expansion/renovation at Lakeview Fitness Center at 700 Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills. Paul Valade/
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