Group raising money to replace Gibson City pool
GIBSON CITY — How does a community pay for a new $4 million swimming pool without putting another burden on taxpayers?
Carey Davis has an answer: Seek donations.
Gibson City has had a public swimming pool in one form or another since Labor Day 1921. The first pool was a mud swimming hole at the pool's current location, and facilities have been upgraded throughout the ensuing years.
However, new uses and accessibility issues mean the current facility is not adequate for today's needs. The current facility has enough age-related condition issues that pool board members and interested citizens believe a replacement facility is in order.
Those thoughts have prompted a steering committee to kick off a grass-roots fundraiser to build a new pool.
Davis, a local businessman and Gibson City resident, explained the group's initial plans to city council members this week.
He said the first goal is to create awareness of the need and to direct residents to the group's informational website (http://www.buildgibsonpool.com) for a history of the pool, photos and more information.
Davis said that after investigating current grant opportunities, the group is convinced that $1 million in local funds need to be raised to show a "good faith effort" that residents are behind the idea.
Organizers want citizens to remember the good times the pool has provided for them and family members, and to consider their donation as an investment in the community, much like citizens did 92 years ago.
An estimate from Burbach Aquatics of Wisconsin shows the total cost of building a new pool will be about $4 million.
Pool board members have saved donations such as the $50,000 estate gift from Wally and Virginia Lamb in 1991. The couple wanted Gibson City to have a new pool and hoped their donation would be the start. Organizers say pool donations have grown to $250,000.
In addition to spearheading the steering committee, Davis has provided initial funding to establish the charitable foundation, develop the website and to print yard signs and window posters.
Davis said other committee members, such as pool board President Angie Funk and Lori Kristensen, were active in gathering history and photos for the website and organizing publicity efforts. Member Bruce Killian has helped distribute signs.
Funk has said that Val Hunt, wife of the late Tom Hunt, longtime pool manager, also was a great help in gathering background info and historical photos.
The new pool will have many added features to upgrade existing facilities, the bulk of which were originally built in the 1950s and 1960s. The group's vision is for the new pool to be used by all ages and abilities, while also hosting competitive swim events for the local youth swim team.
Donations can be made electronically via the website or by mailing a check payable to "Build Gibson City Pool Foundation," PO Box 408, Gibson City, IL 60936.
Future plans include a direct mailing to all area households and putting a "progress thermometer" near the city's main welcome sign, Davis said.
Yard signs and posters are now being distributed, and those interested may contact any committee member to receive materials or to help with fundraising efforts.