Dear Sycamore Park District Residents,
The Sycamore Park District Community Pool has been a place of summer fun and family memories for the last 40 years. Many residents have held summer jobs there, learned to swim, or enjoyed playing with their friends and family. All these things and more make it difficult for us to announce that we are permanently closing the Community Pool. We hope you understand that this was not an easy or hasty decision and that the staff and Board share your sentiments of frustration, disappointment, and loss. We are sad to see the end of an era for this beloved facility.
As you may know, the pool’s condition and lifespan have been a matter of concern for many years and a topic of public communication and input in the last few years. The infrastructure and mechanics have outlived industry lifespans which typically range from 8 to 25 years. As a result, the pool has been pulling, with an increasing impact, a disproportionate amount of District funds. Capitol funds earmarked for other things have covered costly repairs and general operations have been subsidized by other recreational programming and facilities. The total estimated loss for 2023 is $66,762.
Over the last ten years, the Park District has searched for reasonable and fiscally responsible solutions. However, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources strictly regulates development within a floodplain, and scenarios are continually met with roadblocks. We are lucky that the pool was grandfathered in when restrictions were set in place in 1993. However, as we look at the future of this facility, expansion beyond the current footprint is prohibited, and improvements specially designed to meet the IDNR guidelines are costly. Embarking on expensive improvement projects at a facility that will never be bigger, have more features, or serve more people is not a responsible or forward-thinking approach – especially in a growing community. We have also talked with surrounding communities and agencies about the possibility of a large joint pool with modern amenities, however, this idea has not gained traction or community support.
While we knew the pool’s closing would be addressed at some point during the Board’s long-range plan, Sustaining the Legacy: 2025, the current conditions of the economy and commerce have played a role in helping us see that now is the time. Over the last three years, the Park District has experienced the same struggles with personnel and product cost increases that every home and business has felt. Some project fees have increased by nearly 150% between planning and implementation. At this time, we do not feel it would be a fiscally responsible use of Park District and taxpayer funds to build a new facility. A project of this magnitude, which includes purchasing land and new construction, would require a referendum.
The Park District is committed to managing the tax dollars it receives in a sustainable way. With this facility’s aging infrastructure, outdated and failing mechanical systems, the rising cost of daily operations, decrease in attendance, and nationwide challenges with rising product costs and staffing, we do not believe that continuing to operate it would be a responsible decision.
Please know that we see a public pool as a community asset and that this was truly a difficult decision based on years of research and data tracking. Once decommissioned, we look forward to using this space to bring a new amenity to the park which meets IDNR’s guidelines and continues to serve the community.
Additional information can be found here: Data, Statistics, and Frequently Asked Questions
Sycamore Park District Board of Commissioners
Bill Kroeger, Ben Doty, Ted Strack, Daryl Graves, Denise Ackmann
Sycamore Park District Director, Jonelle Bailey