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Voters Growing Weary of Another HS Pool Referendum has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc.
Chicago Daily Herald
By Marie Wilson

Some Roselle-area taxpayers feel like it's "deja pool" all over again.

Roselle resident Phil Van Duyne, who opposes Lake Park High School District 108's most recent push for voter approval of an aquatic center, said the phrase sums up his feelings on the two referendum questions voters will see on the March 18 primary ballot.

One question asks voters to approve a proposal to borrow $8.5 million for construction of an aquatic center at the school's east campus in Roselle with a 25-yard, eight-lane competition pool and a smaller pool with warmer water for swimming lessons and athletic rehabilitation. The other seeks approval of a tax rate increase to provide an additional $390,000 a year for pool operation.

Similar questions have come before Lake Park voters before - including as recently as last April - and Van Duyne said he and others are growing weary of the repetition.

"The district taxpayers have been pretty clear they're not in favor of a pool at Lake Park High School," Van Duyne said. "People just voted it down, but now it's coming back under a different circumstance."

Lake Park Superintendent Lynne Panega said administrators and the school board decided to push for a pool again this spring partially because the vote last year was as close as it's ever been, failing by roughly 600 votes out of more than 8,000 ballots cast.

Panega said the school has seen "a mix of supporters and non-supporters" at open houses held to provide information about the plan.

Opponents like Van Duyne have begun to voice questions about how a new pool would affect property taxes, whether taking out another loan is a good idea and who would most benefit from the plan.

Cost questions

The 23,500-square-foot aquatic facility is projected to cost $9.1 million. If voters approve funding to build and operate it, Lake Park will put $600,000 of its own funds toward the project.

Van Duyne said he wondered what else that money could support if not for the aquatic center plans.

Jeff O'Connell, assistant superintendent for business services, said the money was not pulled away from any one specific project. Rather, it was available in the district's reserves of about $10 million, which represents roughly 20 percent of its total operating budget.

Van Duyne also questioned the cost of interest payments on the $8.5 million the district would need to borrow to finance the pool. O'Connell said interest is estimated to cost $2.8 million.

"I just think it's not necessarily the best time to be taking on any new debt," Van Duyne said.

The school's portion of the property tax bill will increase if both ballot questions are approved and the pool is built. O'Connell said taxes would increase a total of $25.04 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home and $37.56 a year for the owner of a $300,000 home.

The cost of borrowing $8.5 million to build the pool is estimated to account for $11.60 of the total tax increase for the owner of a $200,000 home and $17.40 of the total for the owner of a $300,000 home during the majority of the potential 10-year loan.

But in the last two years, a larger share of the taxes property owners pay to the school would go toward paying off the pool construction loan, with as much as $165 from the owner of a $200,000 home and $255 from the owner of a $300,000 home going to repay pool debt. O'Connell said that's because other debt the district previously incurred will be paid by then, so the tax rate will remain the same.

Even if Lake Park takes out a new loan, O'Connell said the school stands to be largely debt-free by midyear 2025, with only $240,000 left to pay on a loan from 2007.

Community benefits

Lake Park officials say the aquatic center would give a home to swimming and diving teams, allow for water safety and swimming to be a part of physical education, give student-athletes opportunities for water-based injury rehabilitation, and offer park districts and community members a place to swim when outdoor pools aren't open.

The Bloomingdale, Itasca, Medinah and Roselle park districts would have the facility from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to a proposed schedule. In between those times, it would be used by Lake Park students, swimmers, divers and athletes. On weekends, the pool would be open for park district use from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Robert Ward, director of parks and recreation for Roselle Park District, said programs could include water aerobics, parent-tot swimming lessons, advanced swimming lessons and availability for rentals.

Carrie Fullerton, executive director of Bloomingdale Park District, said that district's park board "would very much like to have the opportunity to offer indoor aquatic programming to our residents."

"Working collaboratively with Lake Park on this would give us the opportunity to do that," she said.

Public lap-swimming also is built into the proposed schedule from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. seven days a week and again from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. But Van Duyne said only the morning time is set aside for lap-swimming alone, without the possibility of sharing space with a park district program.

School board President Bob Marino said he has heard from supporters and opponents of the pool, which he believes could offer a variety of uses for the community.

"We were able to design the pool a little differently where we have that ability for the park districts to work on programmatics," Marino said. "I think it's a great mix."

Pool: Facility estimated to cost $9.1 million


February 27, 2014




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