Park board OKs contract to demolish Spalding Pool
CHAMPAIGN — By the end of June, all evidence of Champaign's Spalding Pool will be gone.
The Champaign Park District board Wednesday awarded a contract for $124,500 to Dig It of Champaign for the demolition of the 42-year-old outdoor pool and bathhouse in north Champaign. Additional alternate costs will increase the project cost to no more than $200,000.
Work on the project is expected to begin next week and, by contract, must be completed by June 19.
The park board voted to close the pool in January 2012, and park district staff have been removing everything from hand dryers and filter room supplies in the meantime, said park district Executive Director Bobbie Herakovich.
Spalding had been plagued with major leaks and poor attendance in recent years. Out of the 72 days it was open in 2011, it closed early 15 times because of low attendance. And a survey of Spalding users found that the general perception was that the pool was dirty and dangerous.
But early in its life, Spalding was a year-round attraction, with a wintertime "bubble" over it. High energy costs in the 1970s, however, ended that feature and Spalding became a summer-only pool.
For its last 15 years, Herakovich said, the pool operated with a tax subsidy of between $75,000 and $100,000 a year and it became difficult to justify the expenditure for the number of users that often was fewer than 20,000 a year.
The situation became untenable, she said, when leaks became so bad that the pool essentially was refilled every 24 hours.
No decision has been made about what to do with the pool site within Spalding Park at 910 N. Harris Ave.
"We have studied several options and surveyed residents about what they want to see in the park. Spalding is already home to a baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, a skate park and a small recreation center," Herakovich said. "Residents had no clear direction so staff has recommended trails and a water play area (much like the Hessel Park water playground but greatly expanded)."
The park district is looking into applying for grants for walking paths in the park, she said.
There has been some discussion about building another pool, Herakovich said, but park board members are waiting to see what effect the new $9.1 million Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center in Urbana, scheduled to open this spring, has on attendance at Champaign's Sholem Aquatic Center.