Dear Friends, Supporters and Residents of Belvidere Township Park District,
For over 80 years, the William Grady Pool has stood as a community flagship and a center piece for Belvidere Park. The iconic facility is a place of wonderful summer memories for generations of the area’s residents and families. It is why today is very difficult for us, as we officially announce that we will be permanently closing the facility. It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to the current William Grady Pool. We know that this decision comes with feelings of frustration and disappointment; we feel the same way. We wanted the pool to open just as much as you.
Please know that this decision by the board and staff has not come lightly or hastily. It comes after years of studies, surveys, feasibility reports and recommendations. In our role as stewards for the Township’s taxpayers, it has become evident that continued operation of the William Grady Pool is neither fiscally responsible nor operationally feasible. This year, we tried to carry out one more season. Our whole team worked to get the pool ready, train staff and plan a fun-filled summer in the water but we are faced with being unable to open the pool due to safety concerns stemming from extreme water seepage. Last year, nearly 2.5 million gallons of water were used to fill the pool throughout the summer; the pool only holds 500,000 gallons of water. The staff meticulously sealed the seams of the pool for this season, which was thought to be the root cause of the seepage. Unfortunately, it was not. In the first week of filling the pool, alarmingly, over 1.6 million gallons of water were used and the pool continues to fail to retain water, completely draining itself over the weekend. The issue is much larger than just the seams and instead lies in the plumbing underneath and around the diving well. With the water seepage issue, it is now causing air to be pulled from the main drain plumbing which means that both pumps are unable to run simultaneously and in turn it is impossible to maintain the legal flow rate to provide a safe environment for patrons.
Between an ever-aging infrastructure, failing mechanical equipment, outdated features, environmental and financial impacts of the constant water seepage, the rising overhead operational costs, decreased attendance and the recent challenges in staffing, we feel that continuing operating the facility is not sustainable. Please know we understand that a pool is a community benefit but when we are consistently diverting a substantial amount of our funds from other recreational programming to subsidize the operation of the pool, it is not an effective use of the community’s tax dollars.
We have been diligently discussing, monitoring and studying this topic for the past decade and are now faced with the reality that it is no longer practical to run the pool in its present condition. The amount of money to “band-aid” the issues with the current facility does not make sense due to its age, initially being constructed in 1939 and then updated nearly 40 years ago. Through our most recent aquatic study, the community agreed. An overwhelming number of respondents (86%) felt that the current pool should be decommissioned and recommended planning for updated aquatic features.
As difficult as it is when one era ends, we are excited by the opportunity for the community to come together to plan the future of aquatics for Belvidere Township and the surrounding area. We ask for your thoughts, opinions and ideas on features and amenities you would like to see and be willing to support. The Belvidere Township Park District is committed to bringing quality recreational opportunities to the community. We look forward to planning, alongside you, the next chapter of aquatics.
William Grady Pool Financials At A Glance
*2022 = Budgeted/projected. Please note the amount projected to be subsidized prior to the current issues with the pool.
**2020 | Pool did not open due to COVID
|Daily Admission Visits||6,786||10,225||9,947||9,355|
|Season Pass Visits||1,970||2,742||4,331||3,059|
|Season Passes Sold||296||240||340||354|
*Pool was not open in 2020 due to COVID
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the pool closing?
After years of discussion, consideration and evaluation of the annual financial requirements for maintaining an infrastructure that has exceeded its life expectancies, it was determined that as stewards of public tax dollars continuing to use that money for short term fixes was not the best use of those funds. For the past several years, we have had to move funding from recreational programming, deterred some areas or park maintenance and have foregone planned development in other parks to cover those short-term repairs and the nigh operational costs or the pool.
With respect to timing of the decision, please know that the William Grady Pool has been an iconic part of the Park District and Belvidere for over 80 years. Decisions like this are not easy. Nor should they be made without careful consideration of all the impact it has. The mechanical infrastructure has exceeded its normal lifecycle We have reached the stage where “band-aiding” those mechanicals is no longer cost effective
What are the issues preventing the pool from operating properly?
In the recent years, extreme water seepage has become a major issue with the pool. The staff worked extremely hard to troubleshot and correct these issues to be able to open this season, but all their hard work, unfortunately, did not alleviate the issue and the pool drained over the weekend. To begin to find the root cause, the pool would need to be drained, the plumbing would need to be scoped to pinpoint the troubled area and, most likely, a portion of the diving well and surrounding area of the pool area would need to be dug up, which will be an extremely costly and timely undertaking. With the water seepage issue, it is now causing air to be pulled from the main drain plumbing which means that both pumps are unable to run simultaneously and in turn it is impossible to maintain the legal flow rate to provide a safe environment for patrons.
The pool has many other mechanical and maintenance issues that will need a complete replacement in the near future. Unfortunately, repair is not an option due to inability to get parts for the aged mechanics. Some of the items are a DE filter replacement ($225,000), PVC pool liner ($135,000), pool heater replacement ($60,000), pool pump replacement ($25,000), domestic boiler replacement ($30,000), miscellaneous valve and skimmer repairs ($25,000) and roof repair to the bathhouse ($400,000). These are the issues that can be visually identified; there most likely are additional issues in the underground piping.
What does the decommission process entail?
Decommissioning the pool means that we will remove it from service. Initially, the pool will remain closed and based on the community’s desires for the future of aquatic recreation and the location of such options will determine the steps, timeline and budget of updating or removing the current structure of the William Grady Pool.
How will the facility be replaced?
This is where we need your help! We are looking to the community to help us plan the future of aquatic recreation. Throughout the past year, we have carried out our aquancs recreaton stuoy and community survey to communicate the current state of the pool as well as present options-and possible associated costs. We have developed a variety of options that range from smaller aquatic features and supporting recreational activities to an updated outdoor pool to a complete indoor aquatic facility.
We will be holding public input sessions, survey centers and informational meet and greets to learn the communities’ desires and support levels. To review the aquatic study, please visit belviderrecreimagined.com or stop by the Administrative Building, located at 1006 West Lincoln Avenue.
Will there be public aquatics options in the community?
The Park District offers the SprayGround in Doty Park. This amenity is always free! We have extended the daily hours from 9am-8pm. We will be planning a number of events there this summer!
Will you be adding other recreational aquatics in the community?
We look to you to help us make that decision! As taxpayers and patrons of the Park District, we look to you for what aquatic recreation will be in the coming years. We have developed several options for reimagining what aquatics could look like in the future. While we have had a good response from the community thus far, we would like to hear more so that we can truly create a community supported plan.
We will holding public input sessions, survey centers and informational meet and greets to earn the communities desires and support levels.
What will happen to the money that was subsidizing the pool?
While there will be costs associated with decommissioning the pool, going forward those funds will be used to enhance and expand recreational opportunities and services for the community. In recent years, we have had to divert funds from other recreational programming to subsidize continued maintenance of the pool’s aging infrastructure and mechanicals. We are committed to providing quality and meaningful programming to the community.
What if I bought a pass or signed up for swim lessons for the summer?
We will be providing a full refund to pass holders and participants this week. We want to thank you for supporting the William Grady Pool and apologize that we could not carry out the season.
• Average Daily Revenue | $996
• Average Dally Expense | $3,774
• Average Daily Net Loss | $2,778
• Average Cost Per Daily Visitor | $23.27 (total expenses/number of annual visits)
• Average Subsidized Amount Per Visitor | $17.13 (net loss/number of annual visits)
• Percent of Expenses Subsidized by Tax Dollars or Other Revenue Sources | 74%