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Push to reopen Memorial Pool gathers about 1,000 signatures

Supporters circulating petitions until Dec. 13, plan to present them to council

DIXON – Supporters have gathered about 1,000 signatures in favor of reopening the Memorial Pool, says Marilyn Trulock, the Dixon resident who is spearheading the effort.

The historic pool, owned by the Park District, has been closed for more than a dozen years because of costs associated with repairing, restoring and operating it.

“When (supporters) went to the City Council to help in restoring the pool, the mayor asked ‘Do you think there’s still interest? Can you check in the community and see if there’s still interest?’” Trulock said.

“We had a meeting, passed out forms asking people if the pool should be restored (by the City Council) and now we’re collecting them.”

Trulock is among the people who have tried before to get the 62-year-old above-ground pool reopened.

Engineers have said it would cost $3 million to fix it, and about $100,000 a year to operate it.

In 2007, voters said no to an advisory ballot measure designed to gauge the public’s interest in raising property taxes to repair and maintain the pool. In 2002, the park district tried to raise taxes to build a new pool, but that also failed.

More recently, in March 2011, Candice Bass and Lisa Christenson, who worked at Open Sesame Children’s Learning Centers in Dixon, launched a Facebook page, a letter and petition drive. By May of that year, they also had collected about 1,000 signatures. They also created a video that they planned to send to talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres and the TV show “Extreme Home Makeover,” seeking their assistance.

Now those who wish have until Dec. 13 to sign a petition, and those who want to help circulate them can pick them up at Trulock’s address, 1968 state Route 26, or at Travel Consultants, 735 N. Galena Ave. Call Trulock at 815-440-6882 to sign or for more information.

She plans to present the petitions to the council at the first of the year.

The Dixon Park District recently tabled an item that would give the Memorial Pool property to the city, if it were to ask for it, under the condition it remain a public pool.

Their attorney said a previous agreement to give the pool to the city may have covered that stipulation.

Memorial's history

Veterans Memorial Pool, built in 1950 and dedicated by Ronald Reagan, was one of only two above-ground swimming pools still in operation in Illinois when it was closed in 2000 because of structural problems. The other was in Pontiac; it, too, has since been closed.

Architect Wesley Bintz patented the design in the 1920s. Instead of putting the pool in the ground, he set it above ground and made the building around it the pool walls. The design is intended to maximize space.

There are only a handful of Bintz pools left in the country, including one in Tampa, Fla., and one in Anderson, Ind. The Tampa pool closed in the late '90s, but the city paid $3 million to restore it after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

A handful of others have made the list, including the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool in Weirton, W.Va., but many more have faced the wrecking ball because restoration funds were not available.

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