Urbana park board to get report on final design of Crystal Lake pool

Urbana park board to get report on final design of Crystal Lake pool

URBANA — Urbana residents will get their first look tonight (Tuesday, Dec, 13) at the final design of a slightly downsized $6.1 million Crystal Lake Pool.

The new design for the outdoor pool, which park officials hope to open in May 2013, has three water surfaces instead of four, a smaller bathhouse, less concrete, no employee-operated concession stand and does not include a $250,000 "bowl slide" that was in the original pool concept plan.

Park board members will accept a report on the final design of the pool when they meet at 7 p.m. today at the Anita Purves Nature Center, 1505 N. Broadway Ave., U. A vote on the design is expected at the board's Jan. 10 meeting, which will be preceded by a 6 p.m. open house for the public to review the plan.

The previous proposal for the aquatic center, which is to replace a traditional pool that closed in August 2008, had included a competitive lap pool, a pool with a bowl slide and two leisure pools. The new design includes the lap pool, a plunge pool with features for older children, and a large leisure pool with features for tots and elementary school-age children.

The previous design had to be scrapped, park district officials said, because of higher than anticipated construction costs. About $900,000 in costs were trimmed.

"There were issues with the topography, causing us to move a lot of dirt that escalated the cost," said Corky Emberson, the park district's superintendent of recreation. "We started redesigning in a way and ended up and joined the two leisure pools into one leisure pool, which we feel is a better fit. We're not duplicating water surface that way."

Further, said park district Executive Director Vicki Mayes, a new more costly filtration system had to be installed because of sanitary sewer issues in the north Urbana neighborhood.

"Waterwise it's a much greener technology, but it costs a little bit more," Mayes said. Emberson pegged the cost at an additional $125,000.

Overall the revised pool plan is for 14,520 square feet of water surface, down from an earlier plan with 16,000 square feet of water. By comparison, Rantoul's Hap Parker Pool is 14,000 square feet and Champaign's Sholem Aquatic Center is 24,000 square feet, 12,000 square feet of which is a "lazy river."

"We wanted to keep all of our program elements, which means we give the same level of service to each one of our skill- and age-group levels," Mayes said. "And we wanted to maintain our (financial) pro forma so that we maintain an 80 percent recapture rate with pretty good attendance."

The financial outline for the aquatic center projects annual attendance at almost 62,000 with revenue of $310,224 and expenses of $387,572.

As many as seven alternate features can be added to the project if any number of pieces of good news occur — favorable construction bids, the receipt of a $400,000 state grant or more private gifts — said Mayes. The park district already has received three private donations totaling $33,000, she said.

Those alternative features, ranging from highest cost to lowest, include an expanded parking lot, the resurfacing of the existing lot, a third water slide, an interactive "streambed" water feature for young children, irrigation for the grassy areas inside the aquatic center grounds, a 6-foot-high climbing wall over the water for teenagers and a premium pool coating. Altogether, the seven items would cost almost $700,000.

Mayes said the park district expects to begin demolition of the old Crystal Lake Pool in March, with construction of a new pool — the third on the site — beginning in June.

Among the unique elements in the pool design, according to Mayes and Emberson, are a gentle entry ramp into the eight-lane lap pool, a one-meter diving board and a gentle vortex feature in the plunge pool, lounge chairs in the water of the leisure pool, a sand play area, a "sprayground" outside of the pool and the climbing wall, which Emberson said would be the first of its kind in the United States.

The new plans also call for a concession area with vending machines only.

"One of the things we will allow is for people to bring in their own soft packs of food," Mayes said. "One of the things we looked at is making this affordable for a family. If you have the option of bringing in your own food, this helps.

"Plus concession stands are really expensive to build and really expensive to operate. And good luck if you can break even with them. We just decided we would break the mold on that issue."

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