Oak Parkers have seen the new amenities at the Ridgeland Common Pool, now its Rehm Pool’s turn — at least in terms of long-range planning.

Just 11 days after residents checked out the grand reopening of the Ridgeland Common Recreation Complex and its new pool features including a children’s wading pool, pool deck, raised picnic and lounge area and outdoor lockers, the Park District of Oak Park hosted a public meeting to discuss future plans for Rehm Pool at East Avenue and Garfield.

Based on feedback via an online survey with 165 respondents primarily from Oak Park, the park district in collaboration with consultants Nagle Hartray Archictecture and Water Technology, Inc. have designed an 11-year plan with three distinct phases. The proposed changes would enhance Rehm Pool’s appeal even more as a swimming pool/water park combination of sorts for the community. Based on the survey results, Rehm is the more commonly used pool compared to Ridgeland Common, with 65 percent of respondents claiming they frequent Rehm while only 32 percent use Ridgeland Common.

The online survey, which  also offered 10 pool amenities for respondents to rank in order of preference for possible implementation at Rehm yielded the following top choices (in order): water flume slides, 1-meter  diving board, lazy river, drop slides and a current channel. 

Moving forward, the park district’s plan is to implement the proposed changes at Rehm Park in the aforementioned three-phase process. Phase 1, which will revolve around the children’s area include a remodeled bathhouse, zero-depth splash pad and improved shade, seating and concession amenities, is expected to cost .1 million and be completed sometime next year. Phase 2, the diving well area, will include water flume slides, climbing wall & drop slides, new diving boards along with new pool gutter and filters at an estimated cost of .8 million and completion target date of 2020. The project’s third phase will cost approximately .1 million and focus on the main pool, including 50-meter lanes plus a lazy river, expanded deck and new pool gutters.

In the interim, the park district has approximately 00,000 budgeted via its CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) which meets the 25 percent match required for the PARC Grant, which if awarded will be used for upgrades to the Rehm facility during 2015-16. 

The park district applied for the PARC grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help cover the cost of pool improvements. Upgrades could include replacing a non-accessible sand play area and wading pool with a new ADA-accessible spray pad and grass area, solar-heated filter room/restroom building, expanded, shaded pool deck area, canopy at the pool entrance, and new bathhouse roof and skylights.

“There will be several milestones throughout this [Rehm Pool] project where there may be changes to the plans,” said Diane Stanke, the park district’s marketing and customer service director. “First, we are waiting for word regarding the PARC (Park and Recreational Facility Construction) Grant Program. If we do not receive the grant, we will have to budget in our CIP for the first phase of the project. 

“This would probably push the first phase back. Second, we will be revisiting the Rehm Park site plan in 2016 where we will discuss the impact of the ‘lazy river’ location on the park. Finally, we review the CIP every year which could also have an impact on our plans.”

On July 10 at the Oak Park Conservatory (615 Garfield), located next to Rehm Park, a final draft of the Rehm Pool plan will be presented at the Park Board Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Starting in February 2014, the park district has hosted three public meetings and posted two online surveys about the Ridgeland Common and Rehm Pools improvement plan to gather input from Oak Park residents.

“We are grateful for those who participated in the process and provided their feedback regarding the future of our pools,” Stanke said. “We look forward to providing an improved swimming experience at Rehm Pool as a result of this thoughtful planning process.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...

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