Swim City aquatics center proposed for St. Charles

If St. Charles is indeed a swimming powerhouse because of its prolific swim teams, then the group of individuals forming a nonprofit organization to raise funds for a new aquatics center came up with the right name — Swim City USA.

Swim City has been busy for some time, convincing others that a stand-alone aquatics center with two pools in it — a 10-lane, 50-meter pool and a 3-lane, zero-depth pool — would serve the entire region for competitive and recreational swimmers.

It's something that can't happen with any consistency at the current Norris Center pool, according to Swim City leader Brett Milo.

“Norris is an excellent facility, but when there is a swim meet there, or the high school wants to use it, the residents of St. Charles can't really use it,” Milo said.

After ideas to refurbish or expand the Norris Center pool didn't garner any support from the school district, Swim City turned its attention to the St. Charles Park District.

The park district has set aside land near the east side athletic fields for Swim City's pool concept, but the organization has to raise a lot of money before turning things over to the park district to build and operate a facility.

Swim City will host its second fundraiser Aug. 26 at Hickory Knolls Nature Center in St. Charles. Plans are still unfolding for that, and information about the event or the organization is available by contacting Milo at

About 15 competitive swim teams have already expressed an interest in using the facility if it were to become a reality, Milo said. The size of the pool would make it the only one in Illinois able to host a long-course meet, he added.

But, mostly, no matter what type of competitive swimming events were taking place, the second pool would always be open to residents for recreational swimming. That's an important aspect to Milo and Swim City.

“We have put a lot of our own money into this already on architectural drawings and economic impact studies,” Milo said. “We want to raise money for that, and then start a capital campaign to raise millions of dollars.”

In that regard, the park district has told Swim City it can seek businesses that might want their name attached to the building.

You know, like Papa John's Swim City or Chase Swim Center.

Either way, it seems a segment of the population in all communities that make up the Tri-Cities area has long been pursuing an indoor swimming pool that would always be open to the public.

Swim City has simply taken up that baton in a more meaningful way.

Bring on pasta:

Downtown Geneva will soon add another restaurant to its playbook when Osteria Bigolaro opens at 317 W. State St.

Its calling card is “handcrafted pasta” featuring various Italian dishes from chef Anthony Gargano, who most recently worked at The Finery in St. Charles.

“We're hoping to have our soft opening the first week of August, and then officially a grand opening with the city ribbon-cutting and such about 30 days after that,” Gargano said.

Gargano has spent a couple of years teaching at a culinary school in Itasca, and has also worked at downtown Chicago restaurants.

“I've been here and there,” Gargano said, acknowledging that a chef with a lot of experience on a resume is common in the industry.

For now, he's anxious to introduce area diners to Osteria Bigolaro, which will feature an open-air kitchen for diners to watch the pasta get rolled and the menu items created.

Osteria Bigolaro will seat 46 customers, Gargano said.

Sack that hunger:

More than 1,000 kids in the St. Charles School District receive reduced-cost or free lunches throughout the school year, but it's possible that during the summer they don't have too many options for a decent lunch.

The St. Patrick Parish Service Ministry is hoping to provide that option with free sack lunches every Wednesday during the summer through Aug. 16.

The “Sack Summer Hunger” idea came from Megan Glenn, who heads up the ministry and felt we are too often misled in this affluent area into thinking hunger doesn't exist. In that regard, the ministry wants to help entire families and anyone else in need.

As an example, a couple of weeks ago, the ministry served 40 lunches to a subsidized housing complex in St. Charles.

“Families struggling over the summer may have only one parent who works and the kids may not be allowed to go too far from home,” said program organizer and ministry member Celeste Marc.

“We are working to expand the delivery service to reach as many kids and anyone else who is really in need.”

Mostly, the free lunches are handed out by ministry committee members from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Father Carse Center at the downtown church, 400 Cedar St. in St. Charles. No registration or paperwork is required.

Each sack lunch includes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with peanut-free sandwiches for those with allergies), a juice box, a package of chips, a package of treats, and a squeezable fruit pouch.

St. Patrick parishioners fund the program, while volunteers make the sandwiches and pack the lunches.

Steady visitors:

When the Geneva Arts Fair first unfolded 15 years ago, I figured I would play the “good husband” role and go check out the wares along Third Street with my wife.

We haven't missed one since, and it turns out I've been the one most often digging into my pockets for the credit card to make a purchase for anything from a painting to pottery.

Because it takes place July 22-23, chances are pretty good it will be quite warm, if not downright hot. But that hasn't kept us away in the past. The art looks good, regardless of the outdoor temperatures.

Had to try ‘Western':

It had been some time since I had pizza from Riverside Pizza and Pub in St. Charles. So, when they had a table at the recent Foodie Fest at the St. Charles History Museum, it was time to reacquaint myself.

And it was a good move. In fact, I went back for seconds.

It was the “Western” pizza that grabbed my attention and, eventually, my taste buds. This pizza with sausage, onion, bacon and barbecue sauce is worth mentioning for those who haven't been to Riverside for this thin crust delight.

Swim City USA has proposed a new swimming facility for St. Charles. Courtesy of Swim City USA
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