URBANA — Urbana park commissioners are being urged to finance additional enhancements at the new Crystal Lake Park pool with money from two sources, among them a gift left to the park district more than 20 years ago.
The park district board will consider the plan when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the district's operations center at 1011 Kerr Ave., U.
Contracts for construction of the Crystal Lake Park Aquatic Center, scheduled to open next May, were awarded last month without the inclusion of three elements: the milling and resurfacing of the old parking lot, stone retaining walls at the center's stairs and a tile base at the bottom of the bathhouse walls.
But park district staff say the elements can be included by tapping funds left to the park district by the late Effie James, along with money from the district's general fund and deferring some equipment and vehicle purchases.
"Effie James left funds in her will to the Urbana Park District for programs and facilities for Urbana senior citizens," said park district Executive Director Vicki Mayes. Since 1990, the park district has used some of that money to support the Phillips Recreation Center and the James Room inside it and for programs serving seniors.
"One of the things we've looked at is participation by seniors in wellness and fitness programs that are related to aquatics. It's a stunning number," Mayes said. "The number of seniors who used the old Crystal Lake Park pool when it was open was 25 percent of the pass holders. And of our aquatics wellness and fitness program participants, 53 percent were seniors. And at our indoor aquatics center, 23 percent of our pass holders are defined as seniors. And 66 percent of the participants in our wellness and fitness programs are defined as seniors."
Park district attorney Betsy Pendleton Wong told Mayes that using the James bequest to fund part of the construction of the aquatic center would be appropriate.
"The wellness/fitness competitive pool, particularly because it has a sloping ramp into it and because it would be hosting lap swimming and some specific programs targeted at seniors, would be an appropriate use of those funds," Mayes said.
If the board approves, the park district would use $275,000 from the James Fund for the pool. A plaque or some other way of acknowledging the James gift would be posted at the aquatic center. Mayes said.
"The other thing that we hope will provide a little more funding is to postpone our vehicle and equipment replacement for a year. We feel our vehicles are in good shape and that we can take that break," she said. That will make an additional $200,000 available, according to a memo to the park board.
One aquatics-center element the park district had hoped to include — a short climbing wall inside a teen activity pool — is still without funding. It is estimated to cost about $87,000.
"We're still trying to figure out how to do that," Mayes said, "but that is one of those things that can be added easily as a standalone item."