By Terry Dean
In an about-face, a District 200 pool committee is pulling its recommendation to build the district's new aquatics facility on part of the school's baseball field, the high school announced Tuesday. After rechecking measurements, architects announced the pool building will not fit in the space as planned.
The informal committee had chosen the baseball field site over the parking garage location and Scoville Avenue next to Ridgeland Park. The District 200 school board was slated to make a final selection on Aug. 28.
But in a statement from the district Tuesday afternoon, the committee has withdrawn its recommendation and advises the board to "take no action to select a site at this time, pending further study."
"Following public comments at last week's meeting, administrative staff asked Legat Architects to recheck the measurements and drawings for the new baseball field that would be constructed if the current field were chosen as the pool site," Tuesday's statement read. "Legat subsequently presented revised drawings which indicated that the layout of the pool and the varsity baseball and softball fields materially changed from the drawings that the committee recommended.
"Based on this material change to the layout that was recommended," the statement continues, "the committee is rescinding its recommendation of the baseball field as the preferred site. Instead, the committee will recommend that the board revisit, and more thoroughly study, the parking garage and Lake Street field sites, including a study of parking garage usage, of available parking in the area, and of traffic patterns should the project include closing Scoville Avenue between Lake Street and South Boulevard."
The baseball site has not been eliminated as an option, according to the statement.
"The committee will continue to present the baseball field site as an option, but will use the drawings for that site that were presented to the board on April 24, 2014, which would require relocation of the tennis courts."
In earlier draft plans first publicized last fall, the tennis courts, now just north of the baseball field, would be relocated to the top of the new pool facility. In those plans, the pool facility would be built either where the tennis courts are now or on the baseball field next to the football stadium. In the latter design, the field would then be shifted north and taking up the former tennis court space.
But the latest designs did not include relocating the tennis courts.
Tuesday's announcement likely comes as music to the ears of youth baseball supporters. But now comes a song and a dance from the high school to explain to tennis program supporters why their space is back on the table.
The delay in choosing a pool site likely impacts the school's timeline for building the structure.
A decision was originally planned for this summer and delayed to August. The Scoville Avenue location between Lake Street and viaduct was not in any original drafts that were first presented in September 2013. Scoville was suggested by D200 Board President John Phelan in April of this year.
2017 is the target date to complete the facility, based on a two-year construction phase if ground is broken sometime next summer.
According to Tuesday's statement, the pool item will be an "information item" on Thursday's agenda.
"…the board will not vote to select a site at Thursday's regular Board meeting. The committee will review the additional information it has requested from Legat, with the intent of providing a site recommendation at a future Board of Education meeting."