For over 50 years, the diving tower has been a fixture at Rehm Pool, 515 Garfield St. But time and use have taken a toll. As the summer season approaches, the Park District of Oak Park's board has agreed to demolish the 10-meter tower.
While the final vote will take place during a May 2 meeting, during an April 18 meeting, the board unanimously agreed to give staff the go-ahead to begin demolition planning, so that the tower can be removed as quickly as possible once a contractor is approved. Jan Arnold, park district executive director, said during a recent inspection it was discovered that the tower stairs were rusting from within. With the tower nearing the end of its useful life, the board agreed that demolishing it would be prudent. But they left the door open for building another "diving structure" further down the line.
Arnold said the tower was built in 1966. As decades wore on, the tower has experienced some inevitable wear and tear, but it didn't become a major concern until this decade. In 2015, Arnold said the board considered taking down the diving tower, but decided it still had useful life left.
But as the park district prepared for the 2019 pool season, staff uncovered a pressing problem -- the tower stairs are "rusting from inside out."
Arnold said even before the problem was discovered, safety concerns meant that only the tower's five-meter platform could be used. She also noted that, when the tower is used, all the other activities in the diving pool have to be stopped.
Arnold said that repairing the stairs would cost approximately $40,000, and the ongoing maintenance needs would add to the cost. By contrast, the demolition will cost $38,500.
While Commissioner Paul Aeschleman suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that the park district do a last dive celebration before taking it down, Arnold emphasized that having the tower up once the pool is open simply wasn't an option – the safety risks were too great.
On a more serious note, Aeschleman suggested that the park district evaluate some alternatives as part of the regular capital projects planning process – something that the remaining commissioners said they would support.
In the end, he and other commissioners agreed that, while the diving tower served the community well over the decades, demolition would be prudent.
Given the urgency of the issue, the park district already went out to bid on demolition, and it's working with the village to get the demolition permit as soon as possible. The board will formally approve the bids during its May 2 meeting, and the demolition is expected to happen the following day.
Answer Book 2019
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