Saving a summer tradition: Sleepy Hollow residents fight for pool

Water loss and a 60-year-old pool shell literally crumbling apart could spell an end to a community pool in Sleepy Hollow.

Park officials on Wednesday laid out the pool's condition to a crowd of more than 150 residents who gathered at an outdoor meeting and toured the drained pool.

Owned and operated by the Dundee Township Park District, the pool lost about 3.8 million gallons of water this season. For comparison, water towers in the area, including the one at Randall Oaks Park, hold about 1 million gallons. Last summer, the pool lost about 2.7 million gallons of water.

The pool also underwent extensive patching before opening this summer. But even with that work, concrete crumbled off the walls during the summer season, and the winter months likely will bring more damage, officials said.

Engineers estimate the pool likely has only two years of life left.

Park commissioners will host additional meetings about the pool's future and expect to decide in November if it will reopen in the summer.

"If I had to decide today, based on the water loss, I would have a hard time opening it in 2024," Dundee Township Park District Board President Frank Scarpelli said Thursday.

Sleepy Hollow residents, however, say the no-frills pool, with just two diving boards, is too valuable to close.

"It's a summertime gathering place," Sleepy Hollow resident Karen Flowers told board members during Wednesday's meeting. "We really have something special here."

Dundee Township Park District, which serves more than 60,000 residents, has two other pools: Dolphin Cove Aquatic Center and the indoor pool at Rakow Center. This past season, Dolphin Cove drew more than 26,000 visits while the Sleepy Hollow pool drew just over 5,300 guests.

Losing the Sleepy Hollow pool, however, would close the only swimming option on the west end of the district and put the district below national aquatic standards, officials said.

Park officials said replacing the pool would cost at least $8 million. They said another option would be to build a new aquatic center on the west end. Both options would require voter approval, officials said.

Sleepy Hollow residents inquired if the district could sell the pool to the village or if the district has considered looking for grants or community partnerships to rebuild it

Many residents said they visit the pool in Sleepy Hollow more than the aquatic center because of its community feel and because its simplicity offers an easier way to keep track of children.

"We don't need another community aquatic center; we need a community pool," said Peggy Hanley, a West Dundee resident who visits the pool. Park officials plan to host a meeting in October to further discuss options for the pool and district finances.

Additional information about the pool's condition can be found at

  Sleepy Hollow pool underwent extensive patchwork before opening in the summer. Despite the work, small chunks of concrete crumbled off the pool walls this summer. Alicia Fabbre/
  More than 150 residents attended a meeting Wednesday at Sleepy Hollow pool to discuss its future. Alicia Fabbre/
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