ROCHELLE — News of the park district’s grant award for Spring Lake improvements has been making a splash across the community since it was announced earlier this week.
The improvement project will include the addition of several outdoor recreational activities such as a new splash pad, updated wading pool and water features, replacement of the diving boards and renovations to the bathhouse.
“We will be painting and beautifying the pool facilities to increase the attractiveness for our patrons,” Jackee Ohlinger, Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District Executive Director, said. “To further enhance their experience, we will add coveted shade structures on the pool deck and 15 new parking spaces near the entrance for handicap accessibility, parents with small children and our seniors.”
The Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District was awarded $310,600 through the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) matching grant program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The total cost of the project is about $620,000.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this, it’s going to be wonderful for Rochelle,” Ohlinger said. “I’m just really happy that the board chose to invest in the pool last year. I think that investment made a big difference on our operating expenses this year. I also believe that our financial commitment to the project was recognized by the IDNR and assisted in the award of the grant.”
The process started with the grant application last October followed with a site visit by IDNR officials in November. Ohlinger, along with a room of others requesting a grant, gave a three-minute presentation to a panel of IDNR representatives. In her presentation, she spoke about the necessary improvements including the stabilization of the walls that surround the facility and incorporating aquatic features the community could benefit from and enjoy for years to come.
She read the award letter while planning this year’s activities and events with two other park district employees, Maureen Stevens, Administration and Finance and Marianne Swanson, Aquatic Director.
“I was ecstatic, we were just really thrilled,” Ohlinger said. “It’s a fabulous opportunity to improve the pool and marina area … Spring Lake is beloved by so many people in the community. So many have great memories, being shared on how they used to swim in the lake. I love those stories. I love that children are making memories too; I hear all about the fun they have doing the chicken dance or water polo … I know those experiences are being held near and dear in their heart. I am thrilled to be a part of the improvements at Spring Lake Pool, keeping it alive.”
She also explained why the renovations are important structurally.
“Spring Lake Pool was built in a quarry surrounded by nature in 1981, so it is essential that the pool area is stabilized with an integrated green infrastructure element such as green walls, rain gardens, tree canopies as well as landscaping elements that will include native plantings throughout the park,” Ohlinger said. “On the lake, a new ADA accessible fishing pier will be incorporated for further outdoor recreation.
The community played a part in several features to be added in the renovation, thanks to a recent survey conducted by the park district. Additional parking spaces and shade around the pool were two of the most requested.
Ohlinger said the plan is to make the splash pad available for the community even when the pool is closed. This includes before opening day and into September, weather permitting, evenings and during swim meets. During hours of operation at the pool, the splash pad will be offered as another recreational opportunity to guests.
She also spoke of the extended season and implementing evening hours once again; the season will run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the week, the pool will be open from 12:30 to 5 p.m., with adult swim from 5 to 6:30. The new evening hours during the week are 6:30 to 8:30. Weekend hours will be 12:30 to 5 p.m. with the 5:30 to 9 p.m. time slot reserved for rentals and free community swim events.
Some of the popular programs and events making a return include “Double Bubble Sundays, which is a two for one admission, and water aerobics classes.
“We will also have ‘Noodles, Tubes, Toys and more’ on Saturdays from 12:30 to 2:30,” Stevens said. “We will have innertubes, noodles and things that aren’t usually allowed in the main tank. We are also offering some water aerobics and workout-type classes that will be held during adult swim time.”
Others on tap include a Mother’s Day event on July 21 and a Father’s Day event on June 16, “We can for three cans,” with entry free with three cans of food, a Fourth of July bash and several free community swims.
Ohlinger added that there have been discussions about bringing teen dances to the pool along with “Dive In” movies where guests can watch a movie and float on innertubes. She said there will be events and activities for people of all age groups.
“This project will provide opportunities for everyone in the area,” she said. “This Spring Lake Pool Improvements Project is featured within the District’s Master Plan and the board has already shown their commitment by investing $450,000 into the new filter, boiler, piping and circulation systems along with newly configured composite decking. Spring Lake Pool is the only outdoor pool in the area and is heavily utilized throughout the summer. This year our swim team had 114 athletes, swim lessons were at max capacity each session and the daily attendance numbers average 300 and we see these numbers growing with the return of Marianne Swanson, our Aquatic Director.”
Ohlinger added the park district will be ready to proceed on the project upon execution of the agreement and will have two years to complete it. Renovations to the bathhouse could begin shortly, with the bulk of the project to start after the swim season is over on Labor Day.