Plaster repairs to put Prospect High pool out of commission this summer

Eight years after opening, Prospect High School’s pool is in need of repairs due to crumbling plaster behind tiles that otherwise should have lasted up to a dozen years, officials say.

The eight-lane, 25-yard pool is Northwest Suburban High School District 214’s newest, but it’s been hampered by problems almost since the beginning.

Shortly after the $13 million natatorium opened in 2016, it had to close for several weeks to fix an underground leak.

The latest repair — to the tune of $382,270 — is a full-scale pool basin plaster replacement. It’s the material in between tiles and a bonding agent — all of which are on top of the concrete pool itself.

“The number of times that Prospect has had problems with their pool seems to be endless,” said school board member Frank Fiarito, whose children are part of the district’s swim programs. “We really need to get this figured out because it just seems to be never-ending.”

Chris Uhle, the district’s associate superintendent of activities and operations, said the district has tried smaller patches and repairs over the last year to fix a debonding issue. The pool was drained and refilled twice to perform that work — each time, at a cost of $13,000 — before a diver was sent in with sonar equipment to conduct a full-scale assessment.

That evaluation found more than half of the plaster was failing, and prompted officials to seek the school board’s approval late last week of a full-scale replacement.

The life expectancy of pool plaster is between seven and 12 years, Uhle said.

He said the critical component with bonding is the first six months, during which materials can cure effectively. The district will have a consultant monitor water levels to allow the materials to fully bond, and “hopefully last a lot longer than eight years,” he said.

The plaster on the existing pool had a two-year warranty, while the latest project comes with a five-year warranty.

The work, set to take place this summer, will displace the district’s Community Education aquatics program practices and lessons normally held at Prospect. Instead, they will be held at Wheeling, Elk Grove and Buffalo Grove high schools.

Though the other pools are older, they haven’t experienced the same cracking plaster in recent years as at Prospect, officials confirmed. Renovations in 2017 at Wheeling and Elk Grove included tile work and new filtration systems.

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