Last week's Rehm Pool meeting showed users' serious dissatisfaction with the new Ridgeland Pool. It really bothers me that none of the park district representatives offered an official apology or explanation for how those major problems occurred. I agreed to a tax increase to fund the renovation. Where is the accountability from those who spent the money? Clearly, the competence of the Ridgeland Pool designers/architects is in question.
As to defects:
1. The locker rooms/showers are a quarter of what they were, plus have many design defects. Particularly, the women's locker room is seriously undersized. There is room for five persons plus one family changing room. The lines at the beginning of Public Swim would tell anyone that this is insufficient. Especially, women with children have nowhere to change. Pool employees indicate that people coming to Public Swim don't care about locker rooms, only lap swimmers (like me) do. Tell that to the women with babies in diapers!
2. The formerly recessed ladders into the pool now protrude into it, a serious hazard in the curb lanes.
3. The provision of shade is totally inadequate, most especially in the children's area, but also in the adult areas. This is a serious health issue.
4. The water temperature in the early season was unacceptably frigid. It is unclear from park district employees whether the pool cannot be/is not heated. The official response to this comment was to say that a dark-colored pool cover at Rehm had helped bring up the temperature in that pool.
The presenters pointedly failed to acknowledge the existence and seriousness of these defects. Band-aid fixes do not address the lack of space and shade. It was clearly stated that the locker rooms could not be enlarged.
The four alternative plans for the renovation of Rehm Pool are based on the results of a pool patron survey. The survey asked which of the suggested features the respondents would like to have implemented. The result reminded me of kids in a candy store. Want a climbing wall? Of course! Want a Lazy River? Naturally! Are these a good idea for a neighborhood pool? Perhaps, but it has the effect of placing the responsibility for these decisions on the community, and not on the design professionals.
Given that the users feel that serious design defects exist in the Ridgeland Pool redesign, how can taxpayers trust the designers/architects? For example, only designs for Rehm's outdoor areas were shown. There was no blueprint for the bathhouse. The Ridgeland Pool renovation has taught participants in the process a lasting lesson — one of them mentioned feeling "betrayed."
Perhaps we should limit the Rehm Pool work to the parts required by ADA law and to building maintenance and mechanical systems upgrades. Rehm Pool is at present a functional asset. Do we want an over-designed, questionable renovation, even if it is paid for by a grant?
Let's clear the slate first by an official apology and explanation of how the Ridgeland Pool renovation was botched.
John Muhlenberg is an Oak Park resident.