Glen Ellyn voters to decide $15.9 million funding request for Sunset Pool, park projects
Glen Ellyn's neighborhood pool has made waves with generations of kids since the 1950s.
Learning to swim at Sunset Pool is a childhood rite of passage. Come Memorial Day weekend, teens hop on their bikes and meet up with friends poolside or take their post in the lifeguard chair for their first summer job.
"It has a tremendous legacy in this community," Glen Ellyn Park District Executive Director Dave Harris said.
But the pool is showing its age. The district is asking voters in Tuesday's primary election to approve a property tax increase to pay for $15.9 million in projects at Sunset Pool, Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center and decades-old park sites.
Of that sum, the district would earmark $2 million to acquire land in "park deserts" and potentially create some green space downtown. About $5.8 million would fund a significant Sunset Pool overhaul.
"We certainly have maintained it from a mechanical and a safety standpoint, but there have been no design improvements," Harris said. "The elements, the play features, are all the same that they were really since 1994."
The pool project calls for replacing a traditional playground built in 1994 with a new splash pad, a separate area designed especially for less experienced swimmers, Harris said. The district also plans to add new shade structures, outdoor seating, concession stand upgrades and waterslides.
"We're going to make them a little more exciting and enhance them. We still are working with the footprint of the pool," Harris said.
The renovations also can be done without interfering with the summer pool season, Harris said.
"Since we're not demolishing the pool and doing some major infrastructure work, we anticipate that the work would begin at the conclusion of the 2023 season, and then be completed by the beginning of the 2024 season," he said.
It's not the only major project on the referendum list. If approved, the entire plan would cost the owner of a home valued at $400,000 -- the average in the district -- about $80 more in annual property taxes. The park district now accounts for 4% of the total property tax bill in Glen Ellyn.
Officials also would set aside $6 million to build a 6,000-square-foot gymnastic center addition on the northwest corner of Ackerman, one of the district's most heavily used facilities.
The district currently has a youth gymnastics studio in an old elementary school gym at Spring Avenue Recreation Center, but it's undersized, has a low ceiling and can only serve kids up to about age 7, Harris said.
"We have a tremendous waitlist, so the program is, even in its limitations, extremely popular," he said.
Group exercise also has become "super popular" during the pandemic. To meet that demand, the district would add exercise studios on the first and second floors of Ackerman.
Nearby, officials want to turn an undeveloped property the district bought in 2007 along Lenox Road into community gardens and an outdoor education classroom. Pickleball courts would be installed just beyond Ackerman's main parking lot.
Elsewhere, the district would refurbish and transform Lake Foxcroft, Babcock Grove and Churchill parks. It's been 15 to 20 years since any of those parks have seen any significant upgrades, Commissioner Ben Stortz said in an informational video.
If voters reject the increase, some projects would be deferred.
"We would over time be able to maintain our assets, but we would not have the ability to do a large-scale improvement at Sunset Pool," Harris said. "We wouldn't be able to do large-scale improvements at Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center."