Future of aging Hawthorne Pool uncertain

GALESBURG – The aging Hawthorne pool is in need of expensive repairs, and the city council weighed in on Monday’s work session whether the aging pool should buy a heater.

The council agreed to buy the stove, which will cost between $10,000 and $15,000. The heating is only part of the work required on the building.

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The pool, which is used for swimming lessons, aqua fit classes, open and lane swimming and birthday rentals, is aging. Attendance also appears to be declining.

While 20,150 visits to the pool were recorded in 2017, only 12,610 were recorded in 2019. 2020 data is not available due to COVID-19.

The 60-year-old pool has seen a lot of work over the years, most recently with the addition of HVAC in 2013 for $450,000, but the building itself has seen little maintenance beyond replacing the roof and fixing mechanical issues.

It is currently facing an estimated $964,823 in needed maintenance fixes for several issues identified in a 2016 report. Additional costs to repair the building’s wide-flanged steel columns, masonry, and other items can cost $645,000.

Interior work would also reportedly lead to Illinois Department of Public Health requirements for the building so that HVAC and humidity controls would have to be added throughout the building, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act renovations, which together would cost $2.3 million. .

Besides that, the pool also needs a new heater immediately so it can be used when the weather turns cold. With that in mind, city employees asked the municipality and mayor how they would like to see the outdated building and swimming pool.

During the budgeting process, the city said they may want to consider the future of the pool.

Councilor Bradley Hix noted that if the pool were up and running as a business, it wouldn’t have been in business for long and millions of dollars could be spent on the pool with no visible changes to the average visitor.

“I’d be tempted to have it closed,” he said.

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Whatever happens to the pool, it should be able to remain in service at least until May.

Pool options in the future differ. Tony Oligney-Estill, director of Galesburg Parks and Recreation, says the city could partner with organizations like the YMCA or Galesburg 205 to offer indoor water sports programs. They could partner with other organizations to build a new pool, repair Hawthorne, or put an all-weather dome over the five-foot and zero-depth pool at Lakeside Waterpark.

If someone wants to buy the pool, he says the city would listen to the proposal.

The decision on what to do with the pool will be made during the 2022 budgeting process, which is still in its early stages and will continue as we head into the fall.

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