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Our View: Pool rebuild a needed step

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The pool at DeKalb Park District’s Hopkins Pool is a community asset, but it’s an asset that has almost reached its expiration date.

DeKalb Park District officials have known this for years. They put forth a referendum in 2010 that asked people if they wanted the park district to borrow $15 million to make the pool bigger and better.

Voters said no by a 3 to 1 margin, and it’s unlikely that a couple of years of tepid economic growth have been enough to cause a seismic shift in public opinion.

So park board members are setting aside the grand plan and instead opting to rebuild the pool on the existing footprint at a cost of $5 million, a loan that they can take out and repay without seeking voter approval.

It’s a decision that makes sense. The pool can only continue to be an asset to the community if it’s usable and well maintained. Better a community have no pool at all than a structure that’s falling apart.

The Hopkins Park pool is going on 39 years old and is nearing the upper end of the 35- to 40-year lifespan that park officials say outdoor pools typically have.

The park district is planning a pair of public meetings with the project architect, Aurora-based PHN Architects, in February. Members of the public should be able to give their opinions about what amenities they want included in the rebuild, as well.

Perhaps some elements of the aquatic center plan that fell short at the ballot box in February 2010 can be incorporated into this design. It seems only natural that the pool should change from what was en vogue when the existing structure was built in 1974.

So long as park district officials can borrow the money for the pool rebuild and still pay their bills, this solution seems like the best way to address a problem that will only grow worse if no action is taken.

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