“We’re not going to have a swimming season again this year.”
That’s how Alderwoman Lourdine Florek started her report during Tuesday night’s Hoopeston City Council meeting.
The pool had remained closed last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Florek, who chair’s the city’s water committee, said the city hadn’t heard from anyone interested in serving as a lifeguard this year and even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, which forced the cancellation of last year’s swim season, the city hadn’t gotten much of a response from ads it ran seeking lifeguards.
Florek said she acted on advice from Alderman Bill Goodwine about approaching individuals who might be interested or might know someone who was interested, but that didn’t pan out very well.
Beyond this issue, Florek said the pool is also in need of repairs and an inspection of the pool said it didn’t meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Florek said the council needs to consider the future of the pool.
“We, as a council, need to look at what we’re going to do with the pool going forward,” she said. “I don’t know what to do with it.”
Florek feels that general interest in the pool among youths has declined over the years.
She said many people in the city have their own pools that they can use.
Beyond that, Florek said youths today are more interested in being “on their electronic devices rather than being outside.”
She said other groups are having the same problems when it comes to engaging young people in activities.
“There are many, many, many groups and organizations who can’t get kids to do things,” Florek said. “I think we need to talk about what to do with the pool long term.”
Mayor Bill Crusinberry suggested the matter be sent to a committee for more discussion, but Florek asked which committee should handle the discussion, pointing out that the pool previous fell under the parks committee before recently being moved to the water committee.
Crusinberry and Florek agreed that the best route to take, since they’re considering the possibility of closing the pool permanently, would be for the committee of the whole, which involves all of the council members, to discuss it.
Crusinberry said any decision made on the pool wouldn’t go into effect until a year from now anyway since they’ve already decided to keep the pool closed this season.
Regardless of the future of the pool itself, Florek said the pool’s splash pad would remain open.
Looking to the future, Florek said, should the council decide to close the pool permanently, she hoped they could eventually expand the splash pad area.
“The features we have are great for the little kids, but there are features that are great for kids that are little older,” she said. “I would like to explore the possibility of maybe getting some of those.”
Florek said the splash pad is fairly inexpensive for the city to operate since they don’t have to pay anyone to oversee on it a day-to-day basis since the children who are using it are supposed to be supervised.
“The splash pad really doesn’t cost us much at all except for chemicals,” she said.
In other business, the council approved Steve Bane as the city’s new ordinance officer in an 8-0 vote.
Crusinberry reported that the city had advertised for applicants for the position for two or three months and none of the applicants had met the requirements of the job.
Crusinberry said Bane approached him about the position last week.
He said Bane, a retired police officer who served in Hoopeston and Rankin, had handled ordinance enforcement in his role as Rankin police chief.
Bane will start in his new position on March 29.