WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Life's A Beach

Macomb, IL – A new place will soon be needed for public swimming in Macomb. But a park commissioner says a new pool might not be the answer.

During the park board's August meeting, Jim Bloom said he would like to at least look at the idea of creating a beach at Spring Lake. He thinks it could prove to be a nice destination.

"People will come to go to a beach," says Bloom. "A lot of communities have pools. But not every community has a beach."

Bloom says shower houses and restrooms would need to be built for a beach. But he says those are one-time expenses. He says the city and park district would be spared some of the ongoing costs of a pool. Those include maintaining the liner and deck and replacing pumps and filters.

The beach option was mentioned by a citizens committee that spent nearly two years reviewing the community's public swimming issues. The committee, which released its report in November 2007, raised concerns about the location - Spring Lake is not near a population center. In addition, the panel said Spring Lake would require full development of parking, utilities, and other amenities.

There is another hurdle to overcome for the beach idea. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not allow swimming in Spring Lake because of high levels of contaminants. Some cleanup would be required. The city and park district would then need to spend an extended period of time collecting samples from the lake to demonstrate it's safe for swimming.

Macomb's current pool is in Glenwood Park. It's old - it was built in the early 1940s - and has become too expensive to maintain. The citizens committee found the structural system of Glenwood Pool beyond the repair stage. It also said the mechanical system is outdated and should be scrapped, and added the pool lacks modern amenities that would attract patrons.

The final day of swimming at Glenwood Pool this year was August 20. Right now it appears to be in good enough shape for another season of swimming.

However, Park District Executive Director Ray Peterson cautions that winter weather can be tough on pools. Peterson says he won't know for sure whether the Glenwood is in good enough condition for another summer of swimming until next spring.

In the meantime, a committee of city council and park board members will meet on September 11 to review the qualifications submitted by companies interested in conducting a pool feasibility study.