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Chicago Daily Herald


A 64-year-old outdoor pool in Villa Park is being secured for a season of dormancy while residents who want it repaired consider their next steps.

Members of the Save Lufkin Pool group said they are disappointed with the village board's decision this week not to spend $200,000 to fix the liner, deck, diving board and mechanical systems of Lufkin Pool at 1000 Ardmore Ave.

Trustees instead voted to delay until Nov. 12 a decision about whether the pool should be demolished, giving the group time to raise money for repairs.

"The board's vote against funding any repairs for Lufkin, and the directive to try and raise the necessary funds to repair the pool by ourselves, was disheartening," group members said Friday in a news release. Save Lufkin, which formed in December after an earlier measure for pool repair failed and the village notified residents of its closure, now says it will begin "rethinking our strategy moving forward."

Meanwhile, for this summer, the swimming pool built by a homeowners association and donated to the village will not be available, Village Manager Rich Keehner said.

"Money for Lufkin Pool to open will not be in the budget," he said.

When trustees denied the second repair plan Monday by a 5-2 vote, the next item up for consideration was a $77,000 quote to demolish the pool so the land could become a park. But Trustee Chris Aiello pushed to delay a decision on tearing out the pool and razing the pool house.

He said the months between the November decision not to spend up to an estimated $450,000 to repair Lufkin and Monday's vote not to authorize the scaled-back repair plan were not enough.

"I didn't feel that was fair to those people who were adamant that they wanted to repair it," Aiello said, "because I didn't feel like they had enough time to come up with alternative solutions."

Aiello called the $200,000 repair plan "a pretend fix" because it wouldn't have included things such as stairs into the pump house.

Greg Gola, parks and recreation director for the village, said Lufkin would have been safe if the board had authorized the repair package presented Monday.

Now, officials are turning their sights to potential construction of a new aquatic center and/or recreation center at Lions Park. The land at 320 E. Wildwood Ave. was donated to the village by the Lions Club. It's located within a tax increment financing district, which could help provide funding to build a new facility at an estimated cost of $6.5 million to $22 million, depending on amenities.

When an area is designated as a TIF district, property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected after the district is established goes into a special fund that can be used to help pay for improvements, such as a new aquatic and/or recreation center.

The TIF district in this case, though, is set to expire at the end of 2019 - unless the village persuades all other affected taxing bodies to allow it to remain in place for 13 more years.

Keehner said village staff members have begun to meet with other taxing bodies, such as school districts 45 and 88, and he plans to continue discussions with them about possible TIF district extension.

From June 2 to Sept. 3, Villa Park swimmers can use the village's other aquatic site on the north side of town, Jefferson Pool at 341 N. Harvard Ave.

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March 5, 2018


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