Delays bedevil Crystal Lake pool project
URBANA — Nothing is coming easy for the Urbana Park District as it prepares to build a new Crystal Lake Park aquatic center.
Park district officials already are being tormented by delays in the approval of the swimming pool plans by the Illinois Department of Public Health and of the announcement of a hoped-for $400,000 grant to pay for a streambed feature at the pool.
And last week demolition crews discovered that they had to remove all of the concrete from the original 1927 swimming pool on the same site. That added $53,000 to demolition costs, said park district executive director Vicki Mayes.
"As we were doing the demolition of the pool, what we discovered was that the elevations that were listed in the construction documents from the 1927 pool were lower than the pool really is," Mayes said. "So we had to call a special meeting to authorize more extensive demolition costs for the pool because the bottom part of the old pool with the higher elevation was in conflict with our construction plans."
And removing the 95-year cold concrete wasn't easy, she said.
"That is 1927 concrete so it is like thick and hard," she said. "But it was really neat because you could actually see the entire oval of the original pool before they started the actual demolition of it."
Most of the old concrete already has been removed, she said, but the park district still can't put the anticipated $8.1 million project out for construction bids yet.
"We haven't heard from the (state) Department of Public Health on pool plan approval. That was supposed to be at the most a 10-week process, and it's now in week seven or eight," she said. "We're just waiting to hear back from the department, and there's nothing we can do but just wait."
The park district also is waiting to hear whether it will get a $400,000 open space land acquisition grant from the Department of Natural Resources to fund a feature at the pool. Money for the OSLAD grants comes from a percentage of the state's real estate transfer tax.
"This is all kind of hard on those of us who are patient people," Mayes said.
Originally the park district had hoped to open construction bids on the pool project this month; that timetable likely will be pushed back to July, Mayes said.
In either case, she said she still believes the new pool will be opened a year from now.
"The pools that I've built in the past, as long as I could get under construction and didn't have to do any more demolition by September, we were able to open in the first week in June," she said.
And Mayes said the sputtering economy may help the park district with its construction costs.
Just a few months ago officials feared that the economic recovery could escalate costs but "because the economy is still iffy, and there probably are still a lot of contractors out there that may be anxious to get work, I'm not as worried any more.
"There's good in almost everything. Sometimes you just have to look for it," she added.