How group hopes to save Villa Park's Lufkin Pool
A group of residents working to prevent the demise of a 64-year-old swimming pool is now ready to accept donations to help repair it.
At savelufkinpool.org, a nonprofit organization forming under the name Park Advocates of Villa Park is accepting funds to put toward renovating the aging outdoor facility so it can operate at least a few more years, said Steve Seddon of Villa Park.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the campaign, which links to a GoFundMe page seeking $200,000, had raised $680 in 12 days.
"We're hoping that it just builds on itself," Seddon said. "The more that people see money is coming in, the more they might be inclined to donate."
Lufkin Pool fans launched their fundraiser seven months after the village board voted not to pay $200,000 for basic fixes that could have allowed the pool to open this year, but voted also to delay a decision on whether to demolish the facility until Nov. 12.
Seddon said the move surprised residents who want Lufkin preserved.
But with the vote on demolition two months away, Seddon said the group wants to start building momentum, planning events and seeking grants that could help repair pool problems. Among the issues identified with Lufkin's infrastructure are a detached liner, aging pipes and a sinking pump house, with repairs also needed to the filtration system, acid storage, backwash tank, drains, diving board, pool house and deck.
Without Lufkin available, Village President Al Bulthuis said Villa Park lost $30,000 in pool revenue, as 13,000 people visited Jefferson Pool, down from the 21,000 who used both Jefferson and Lufkin in 2017. The village is still calculating the money it saved by not having to fill Lufkin with water, keep its systems operational and hire lifeguards to keep watch. Bulthuis said that total could top the money lost from pool admission.
Seddon said pool advocates surveyed 263 people, mainly followers of the Save Lufkin Pool Group on Facebook, and found 60 percent of them did not buy a pool pass anywhere this year, with Lufkin closed, but 68 percent had a pass last year in Villa Park.
He said he visited pools in Elmhurst and Lombard, and many got passes to Lombard's Paradise Bay Water Park.
"They were nice, but it was more expensive," Seddon said about the other pools. "And we drive by Lufkin and see it completely empty on a hot day in July and just thought, 'This is a shame.'"
In meetings with trustees, Seddon said Lufkin advocates learned that some think the pool needs more repairs to reopen than others. Seddon hopes the village can meet the Park Advocates group halfway and contribute toward fixes if officials see a concerted fundraising effort from residents.
"The money we're collecting is specifically to rebuild Lufkin Pool," Seddon said. "If the village doesn't want that money, we'll give it back."
Bulthuis said balancing the needs of Lufkin with other spending priorities across the village -- such as storm and sanitary sewer separation, flood prevention and pension payments -- is a must.
He said he relies on a 2013 study by Williams Architects, which determined Lufkin was at the end of its useful life and should be replaced.
"It still boils down to me to the question of, how much money do you spend on a 64-year-old swimming pool that it has been recommended not to spend any more money on?" Bulthuis said. "We have other problems in town."
The next village action on the pool will come in November. That's when the board is set to reconsider a $77,000 bid to demolish the structure.
In the meantime, Bulthuis said the village continues negotiations with other taxing bodies about how to fund the potential construction of a new pool and/or recreation center in Lions Park.