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Group to gauge interest in reopening Memorial Pool

‘A community our size needs a public pool’

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 2:52 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Will there be new life for the Dixon Memorial Pool, which has been closed for 12 years? Advocates of reopening the facility are having a meeting Tuesday to determine the public's interest.
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Dixon Memorial Pool has been subject to vandals and decay the last 10 years.

DIXON – Dixon resident Marilyn Trulock remembers going to Dixon’s Memorial Pool during the summers when she was growing up in the 1950s. And she especially liked it when she was allowed to sun-bathe on the deck – a privilege for those 16 and older.

The pool, though, closed a dozen years ago. Trulock is among those pushing to fix it so that it can open again.

The supporters are planning a public meeting on the issue for Tuesday night at City Hall, urging those interested to attend. The park district owns the pool.

In 2007, voters rejected an advisory ballot measure designed to gauge the public’s interest in raising property taxes to repair and maintain the pool, which is on Dixon’s southwest side.

“On a sunny day, the pool used to have 200 kids. When we can get that many kids off the street, that’s wonderful,” Trulock said.

The pool has a Ronald Reagan connection, she said, noting the Gipper dedicated it in 1950. It is a rare pool in which windows give people a look at the swimmers underwater.

“It’s like the Shedd Aquarium, except it’s in Dixon. Instead of fish, you see people,” said Deb Carey, executive director of the Dixon Park District.

She said the district closed the pool because its equipment couldn’t keep the chlorine at the correct levels. Another issue, she said, were leaks in the above-ground pool. The costs to fix the problems were too high, she said.

“There’s no getting around the fact that a community our size needs a public pool,” Carey said. “It’s an expensive form of recreation, but many forms are.”

The pool closed for a few years in the early 1980s because it needed work. Voters passed a referendum to fix it.

“Public pools don’t have a life span of 100 years. Pool consultants say you get 25 years out of a pool, especially in northern Illinois, where they are subject to bitter winter weather,” Carey said.

The big question: How would residents pay for an improved pool?

The pool’s advocates avoided proposing a tax increase this year because the school district already is asking voters to pass a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase for an activities and sports complex in November.

Trulock said supporters could raise funds for the pool and seek grants. She also hoped the program could get some of the proceeds from the recent auction in the federal case against former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell, who is accused of misappropriating $53 million in city money over more than two decades.

That money is going to the city government.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said it was too early to comment on whether some of the money would go toward the pool. The city would seek public input on how to use the new funds, he said.

Burke remains a supporter of reopening the pool.

“I tried to get the city to take a role in this before, but it didn’t go anyplace. There wasn’t enough support on the City Council,” the mayor said. “It’s an institution worth preserving.”

To attend

A public meeting about opening Memorial Pool is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Dixon City Hall, 121 W, Second St. Organizers are urging anyone who is interested to attend.

For more information, call Marilyn Trulock at 815-288-2000.

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