Park District to Demolish Spalding Pool; NAACP Head Criticizes
By Jeff Bossert
Champaign’s Park District will take a few months to determine whether a new pool is needed in the city’s northwest side. The district board Wednesday was expected to take bids for demolishing Spalding Pool.
Executive Director Bobbie Herakovich said the district repaired as many leaks as it could in the pool’s 30-plus years, forcing the board to close it last year.
She said the board will wait through the summer to decide whether there will be swimming again in Spalding Park, citing the opening of a new Crystal Lake Pool in Urbana (opening in June), and swimming at the Champaign County YMCA.
Herakovich said survey results show walking trails are a big priority, but a water playground is still possible.
"I must say that in the survey, there was no clear no 1. choice," she said. "There's a lot of people who didn't want to lose the pool - it's a kind of country club of that neighborhood, in a sense. But there were so few users of the pool by the time that we closed that we subsidizing it by 80 and 100,000 dollars a year."
But Champaign County NAACP president Patricia Avery said that’s a mistake. She said the Park District needs to put more outreach and resources into all facilities at Spalding Park.
"We need to have more places for our kids to go, not less," she said. "And when we take away these resources, it just forces them to try to find something else to do somewhere else. And getting there is a problem for a lot of these kids."
Avery said larger summer crowds at the Sholem Aquatic Center brought on by the pool’s closure last year led to some fights between young people.
Herakovich said a recent community survey showed while some missed the pool, other areas, like walking trails, were a priority for Spalding Park.
She said the park remains busy, with a basketball court, baseball field, and tennis courts.