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Area Agencies Collaborate to Impact Lives of Loves Park Youth Looking for Summer Swimming Opportunities

LOVES PARK, IL – The City of Loves Park and its residents are preparing for a summer without Sand Park Pool, but now five entities have come together to offer a solution for additional summer swimming opportunities.

Last fall, the Rockford Park District announced that Sand Park Pool would be closed for the 2018 season. Closing the pool saved the District $88,000, as a variety of repairs to the concrete, fencing, play features, and mechanicals was needed, which totaled roughly $40,000. In addition to pool maintenance repairs, the District spends roughly $48,000 in tax subsidy to operate each summer.

“This summer, remediation efforts will be taking place along the entire eastern portion of the Sand Park Pool property as a new layer of dirt is added. It’s going to be very hard to navigate, and certainly not a very family-friendly environment with all the construction going on, so that was another reason why we decided to close the pool. We know this isn’t ideal, but it’s a mandate from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), so the work must be done. We really appreciate the community partners represented today who have stepped in to help out,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.

Alpine Pool and Harkins Aquatic Center will remain open, and provide the best geographical balance for the District to provide swimming and lesson opportunities. Additional ways to cool off include Magic Waters Waterpark and West Rock Wake Park at Levings Park.

Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury gathered a variety of organizations, including the YMCA of Rock River Valley, Harlem School District, and Rockford Park District to brainstorm alternative swimming opportunities.

“I was very concerned initially about this decision, as Sand Park Pool is one of many great amenities the Rockford Park District provides to our citizens, but with remediation efforts increasing this summer, it was not going to be an ideal place for recreation,” said Mayor Greg Jury, City of Loves Park. “These agencies have been meeting for the last few months, and I’m thrilled to share with our residents the solutions we’ve come up with together.”

It is estimated that roughly 500 children took lessons at Sand Park Pool each summer, and will be able to continue to access these lessons close to home. Harlem School District offered up its middle school pool for a swim lesson location. “Swim lessons are a very important part of the summer experience for our children and their families. We are glad to be able to support this program as our partnerships with the Rockford Park District and the YMCA are very important to us,” said Harlem School District Superintendent Dr. Julie Morris.

This summer, the YMCA will be hosting four sessions of accelerated swim lessons at the Harlem Middle School pool. The sessions start June 4 and 18 and July 9 and 23 and will be $55 per session. For those who want to splash around and have some free time at the pool, the Y is opening its doors to non-members during the summer. On Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the Y is offering drop-in swim rates of $6 per person at the Northeast Family YMCA and SwedishAmerican Riverfront YMCA. “Learning to swim is a critical component to the safety of our community, as drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old,” said Brent Pentenburg, CEO, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “When we heard about the Park District’s need to close this facility, we immediately wanted to find a way to help. We are excited about this collaboration for our community to keep area pools accessible for families.”

OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center also jumped in to support the effort. OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center is underwriting the cost of the summer program, and will provide a swim cap to each child who takes lessons. “OSF HealthCare is extremely proud to partner with these wonderful agencies to ensure that our children have the resources to continue swim lessons close to home,” said OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center President Paula Carynski. “It’s the Sisters’ Mission to serve our community with the greatest care and love. Helping fill a need for our young people is a perfect example of the commitment we’ve made to the Rockford area for more than 100 years.”

To register for lessons or view the open pool times, click below:

More about the Remediation Work around Sand Park Pool

Remediation of the former Sand Park landfill will begin soon, with the focus being along the entire eastern portion of the Sand Park pool property. In 2015, an agreement was reached between the Rockford Park District (RPD), State of Illinois, City of Loves Park, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), Inc. regarding remediation efforts. Remediation of the former Sand Park landfill will take place over the next two years, and include a new parking lot, along with removing all of the driving range and sledding hill, which will be converted to a nature preserve.

Remediation Work Timeline:

  • 2018 - The entire eastern portion of the site, including the driving range and sledding hill, will be converted to a nature preserve, as agreed to by the IEPA. Fencing will be placed around the area to limit access and sustain the healthy growth of the prairie.
  • 2019 - Remove existing Sand Park pool parking lot, and construct larger parking lot
  • 2020 - Reconstruct Heart Boulevard
Mike Costello