Elgin residents say city must reopen Lords Park swimming pool

Residents and community leaders worried about the future of Lords Park Pool told members of Elgin City Council this week that the facility is vital to the East Side neighborhood where it sits.

“The pool is truly an oasis for families,” said Rachael Caise, an 8-year East Side resident who grew up on Elgin’s West Side. “And for families who can’t afford a road trip elsewhere or can’t afford to buy a plane ticket for a vacation, the local swimming pool is that oasis. This is the place to go.

The pool, officially known as Lords Park Family Aquatic Center, has been closed since 2020. Originally closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials kept it closed in 2021 and 2022 as a cost-cutting measure. .

As city officials begin discussions on the 2023 budget, pool supporters presented Elgin City Council on Wednesday with the reason the facility must reopen next year.

“Being a kid in today’s global climate is tough. I think being a parent in today’s global climate is tougher,” Caise said.

A former educator who now works with teenagers to develop social and emotional skills, she said she recently asked a group of children what they liked best about summer so far.

“Can you guess what the unanimous response was? Swimming. The pool,” she said.

City officials say there have been no formal discussions to close the pool next year or permanently, but members of Friends of Lords Park Zoo and other pool supporters say ‘they think it will be considered.

Gifford Park Association president Paul Bednar said his group wants the city to find a way to reopen the pool next year and keep it open.

“It’s not unreasonable to have two community pools in a city our size,” he said.

The Wing Park Family Aquatic Center was opened this year and the town also has an indoor pool at the Edward Schock Center in Elgin.

Although the Schock Center pool is open year-round, swimming indoors is a very different experience than swimming outdoors, Bednar said.

In an outdoor pool, you “can sit on a lounge chair and soak up the sun, then jump out of your chair and cannonball into the pool, then jump up and play volleyball in the sand,” he said. -he declares. “What we would like to see is that the east side (residents) can enjoy the same experience (as those in the west).

Elgin Public Museum Board Chair Judy Hayner said her family did not take a summer vacation this year because, like many families in Elgin at the moment, they are not couldn’t afford it. Instead, they had spent days touring local park facilities, she said.

“We would go to the museum,” she said. “We would go to the zoo. We were walking around the playground. We would have a great day.

“The whole Lords Park experience is an experience that a lot of people can share from childhood,” Hayner said. “I think that’s a great asset for Elgin. I hope there is a way to maintain this.

Gloria Casas is a freelance journalist for The Courier-News.

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