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Pool renovation: ‘What a dream it would be’

Other communities have found a way to keep their outdoor public swimming pools afloat. A Dixon group wants the same outcome for Veterans Memorial Pool. If there’s a way to do it, Pool Partners hopes to find it.

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Members of a Dixon group, Pool Partners, seem to have the will to get Veterans Memorial Pool up and running again after more than a dozen years of sitting idle.

The question is, What way can they conceive to achieve their goal?

Other Sauk Valley communities have the will and have found a way to provide a public swimming pool for their residents.

Outdoor public swimming pools serve Polo, Walnut and Mount Carroll residents during the 3 months of summer.

Sterling and Prophetstown operate indoor public swimming pools. (The Sterling Park District closed and demolished its Lawrence Park outdoor swimming pool several years ago.)

One regional community, Princeton, operates both an indoor and an outdoor public swimming pool.

Interviewed for Sauk Valley Media’s recent story, “Sink or swim,” Elaine Russell, executive director of the Princeton Park District, put to rest any notion that pools should be financially self-sufficient.

“It’s solely a community service,” Russell said.

As such, it’s a given that tax dollars derived from the community are used to cover expenses above and beyond admission and rental fees.

And like other community services – streets, sidewalks, water, sewer – a swimming pool provides something of value – a safe place to learn to swim, enjoy recreation, learn lifeguarding skills, and stay fit through aquatic exercise.

Veterans Memorial Pool, which opened in 1950, used to be all that, before it became too expensive to keep repaired and operational. It closed in 2000.

But no one has dared demolish it, as was the fate of Sterling’s outdoor pool, because of its special heritage.

When it closed, it was one of two remaining above-ground pools in the state. The other above-ground pool in Pontiac has since shut down.

And it’s probably the only pool in the world that was dedicated by Ronald Reagan, who even swam in it during the 1950 ceremony.

“That pool is a treasure,” Russell said, “and what a dream it would be if they could preserve it.”

Indeed.

Pool Partners members, who met earlier this week, continue to investigate options, with the help of engineers, city officials and legal experts. Led by retired teacher Marilyn Trulock, the group hopes to devise a plan to bring the pool back to life.

“We’re trying to do something good,” Trulock said.

A restored Veterans Memorial Pool could be good for Dixon. Residents could get a lot of use from it. History buffs might come to admire the above-ground architectural gem. Reagan fans might travel here to take a dip in the same pool where the 40th president once swam.

So far, Pool Partners members have shown the will. 

Now comes the hard part – finding a way.

 

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