Serious defects in Ridgeland Pool design

Opinion: Columns

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By John Muhlenberg

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.

Reader Comments

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to: OP  

Posted: July 3rd, 2014 12:48 PM

That is were you are wrong. The article is not correct and filled with inaccuracies. That is why I don't accept it. I often put people who comment incorrectly on things in their own bubble.


Posted: July 3rd, 2014 12:26 PM

John - while your article is correct, it will never be accepted by OP'ers. You see we are either too insecure to accept that there is room for improvement or /and too sure of ourselves that we could have made this better. Our response is SHUT UP, if you did not go to meetings. You see OP has lost its MOJO because we lack are unable to ask/answer the tough questions - clickly social climbing and if you complain, we will put you outside the bubble.

OP Resident # 545 from OP  

Posted: July 3rd, 2014 11:34 AM

The pool deck layout is clearly different, but I think there is more usable space then before. The kiddie pool is almost 2X the old one with more stuff. What's essentially going on here is about a dozen people from the lap swimming group are the most vocal complainers, led by a lady from River Forest who keeps begging Oak Park to build her an indoor warm water pool. There are no "defects", only differences of opinion from a small, very loud group. Those I talk to love the new RC. Thanks, PDOP!

Lori R M   

Posted: July 3rd, 2014 10:50 AM

When I took my son for swim class the first time this year, I thought it was my imagination that the pool areas looked smaller. The tot pool is terribly small and really very boring-looking. I did not attend any kind of meetings or provide any comment during the planning so I have no right to complain, just observe. And besides swim classes, we'll continue to go to the Forest Park Pool for real fun. It has much more to offer.


Posted: July 2nd, 2014 1:24 PM

better yet, avoid the pool all together. No one wants a crab there when they are having fun.

I don't find serious defects  

Posted: July 2nd, 2014 1:23 PM

B****, B****, B****. "User's showed serious dissatisfaction?" Where were they during the planing process.? I don't want or need an apology from the PD. I love the new pool and facility. I don't use the locker rooms, never did. Had 3 kids come up through the years in there too. I disagree. I thing the umbrellas provide more shade than was there before. If you cover the entire area, no one will come, because there will be no warmth from the sun! Use sun screen, avoid that lane of the pool,

Joe from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2014 12:53 PM

John, why are you spending so much time in the women's locker room?


Posted: July 2nd, 2014 11:42 AM

I thought about this and here are my thoughts: hindsight is better than foresight, 2) well, changes were made and nothing that is said now will change the design, so go ahead nd bea grump, 3) thanks for the constructive thoughts, did you contact the park district, or decide to write an oped instead, 4) no really, any comment you have will only enhance the planning process, 5) well, has there ever been a facility built that gets it totally right.

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