No Ridgeland Common? No problem - take a swim at these local pools

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Lacey Sikora

Contributing reporter

2013 may be remembered as the year that Ridgeland Common closed for construction, taking away one of Oak Park's two public pools for an entire summer season. While the Ridgeland pool will return new and improved in 2014, for this year, other local pools are prepared for increases in visitors.

On the south side of Oak Park, Rehm Pool is preparing for a busy season beginning with opening day on May 25. Mike Lushniak, Aquatic and Rink assistant manager notes that they are ready for bigger crowds this year. "We've made tremendous changes to our schedules to accommodate Ridgeland Common being closed. Probably the biggest change involves our summer swim lessons."

To free up more public swim time, Oak Park Park District swim lessons will be offered indoors at Rehm and the OPRF and Fenwick pools this summer. Two swim teams, TOPS and Team Millennium will also be accommodated this summer, allowing both teams to keep practicing locally. Camp swim time has been moved from the peak afternoon hours to the morning, allowing roughly 300 campers to get in some swimming before the pool opens to the public.

The Park District has also made changes to Rehm's hours, facility and staffing to prepare for more capacity crowds. The pool used to close at 4 p.m. every day for a one hour break, but Lushniak says the pool will now stay open extended hours, until 8 p.m. every night, with no break. There will be more family changing areas and more life guards as well.

The pool can accommodate roughly 775 people at capacity, and Lushniak notes that Rehm hit capacity three times last summer. "This year we are prepared to deal with reaching capacity as needed. Once we hit capacity, we'll institute a one in, one out policy."

In Forest Park, the Aquatic Center is gearing up for a possibly busier summer with neighboring Oak Park down to one pool. Superintendent of Recreation Stacy Lafortune says the cold spring has kept earlier registration levels at the same level as last year, but she doesn't expect that to last.

"Last year, we had such high attendance because of the heat, that last summer will be hard to top. Even though our attendance was high last year, we' think it might be higher this year, and we're hoping that we'll get lots of visitors from Oak Park. Opening day is May 25, and includes a free picnic in the park."

A family pass for a family of four runs $115 for residents and $210 for non-residents, and daily passes can also be purchased. Forest Park residents ages 12 to 60 will pay $6.50 for a daily pass, and non-residents will pay $9.50. Children 3 to 11 pay $5 as residents or $7.50 as non-residents. Lafortune stresses that pass holder enjoy many perks including a free pass holder appreciation night in June complete with D.J.

Pass holders also enjoy discounts on perennial favorite events such as the Flick and Float movie nights. This year's offerings include Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted on Wednesday July 17 and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on Wednesday August 14. Other summer events include two pirate treasure evenings on Wednesday June 5 and Thursday July 18. On these nights, keys are tossed into the pool to be retrieved for a chance to unlock the treasure chest, and children under the age of 4 can find treasure buried in the sand.

Theme nights include Welcome to the Jungle on June 26, Circus Pool Party on July 10 and Hawaiian Luau on July 31. These evenings run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and specially-themed games, food and music.

The Riverside Brookfield Pool will also be offering summer swim lessons and open swims for community members. Information regarding schedules is available at www.rbhs208.net.

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