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By Terry Dean
A dip in a pool probably never felt so good to students.
After going without swimming pools throughout the summer and all of fall 2010, Oak Park and River Forest High School reopened its girls and boys pools last week after passing a health inspection by the state.
The boys swim team took part in practice last Wednesday for the first time since late last spring when both pools were closed for renovations. The girls' season concluded in the fall and the swimmers were forced to host their practices and home meets elsewhere. The boys' season is currently underway. The East and West pools were also closed to physical education classes.
Permits and construction problems contributed to delays in reopening the pools, though the initial upgrades were completed last August.
An inspection was scheduled for December but had to be rescheduled when the pools were found to be leaking. Those repairs, as well as the initial renovations, were done by Wight and Co., OPRF's longtime construction firm. Future construction projects at the school, however, will be handled by its new firm, Chicago-based Legat Architects. The OPRF school board hired Legat on Dec. 16 but was noncommittal to retaining Wight in some capacity.
Based in Darien Ill., Wight—OPRF's contractor for more than 20 years—came under fire last year for what parents and school officials say was Wight's mishandling of the project, including not getting the proper permits before doing the work in the first place. The state ended up fining the company 20,000 in September. The firm also handled a slew of other projects this summer, under-estimating the work by about $2 million, which also drew the ire of the high school.
Following last week's successful health inspection, the high school was issued a permit and the pools were immediately opened last Wednesday.
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