DIXON – Of the ongoing efforts to organize activities for Dixon’s youth, a handful of teenagers said they would most like to see Veterans Memorial Pool reopened.
Sauk Valley Media interviewed 18 random teens, each of whom said reopening the swimming pool would be their first wish.
That’s not to say they don’t want to see a skate park or youth center open, too.
“We need both,” said 15-year-old Anthony Chacon, while skating with friends at Presidents Park. “If I had to choose one, though, it would be the pool, because everyone likes to swim.”
Four others sitting along the park sidewalk with Chacon nodded in agreement.
An effort to reopen the historic pool is underway once again. About 40 people attended last week’s meeting; another is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.
Another effort, to open a youth center/skate park called Project Gennex, also is ongoing.
Steve Wilson, building manager at Loveland Community House and Museum, was inspired by a column in the Dixon High School newspaper in which Trevor Mixen wrote about the lack of things to do in the city.
The group has since scheduled its first event – a teen concert in Page Park on June 19 – and is making plans to organize a youth center and possibly build a skate park.
Rachel Heiderscheit, 15, and Erin Vits, 13, said they go to Polo’s swimming pool or a friend’s house to swim.
“The closest pool is Polo, and we don’t go there very much, because gas costs so much and it’s not easy to get a ride,” said Heiderscheit, who was playing tennis in 90-degree temperatures last week at Page Park. “I think it’d be cool to have something in our town, where we can go swim with friends.”
Samantha While, 13, and Cassie Vansickle, 13, are convinced Memorial Pool would be the best summer hangout.
“Right now, there aren’t too many places to hang out with friends,” said While, who was walking to McDonald’s with her friend. “We walk around a lot and just look for something to do.”
The Dixon Park District has said it would give the Memorial Pool property to the city, if it were to ask for it, under the condition it remain a public pool.
The historic pool has been mothballed since 2000 because voters refuse to foot the multimillion-dollar restoration bill.
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.
Engineers have said it would cost $3 million to fix and about $100,000 a year to run, although supporters dispute those numbers.
With that said, skaters at Presidents Park said they have very few places they can skate without getting scolded or kicked out.
“It’s either go out of town to skate parks in Sterling or Oregon, or skate here,” said Andrew Zwarton, 18. “A lot of the places around town, we get in trouble for skating. It would be nice for us to have a place to go to and stop getting into trouble.”
Andrew Downing, 17, said there are about 20 skaters around Dixon every day. Most go to Presidents Park to hang out together.
“We get in trouble everywhere else.”
While and Vansickle said they are learning to skate and would love to have a skate park, even if it’s just to go and watch. They have heard about Project Gennex and hope it succeeds, they said.
Vansickle said she would “definitely go” to events geared toward teenagers, such as concerts, movie nights or game nights.
Tyler Randolph, 17, said anything positive the community can do for its teenagers would be a step in the right direction.
“I think a youth center, or even the sports complex was a good idea,” said Randolph, who was shooting hoops at Lincoln School’s outdoor courts. “So many kids go out partying on weekends and get into trouble; this would give them something to do.”
Randolph said he mostly plays basketball to kill time, and hangs out with friends.
“We just want something.”