DANVILLE — To keep costs down, closer to an estimated $3.5 million instead of $10 million, many Danville City Council aldermen Tuesday night said they prefer rehabilitating the Garfield Park Swimming Pool instead of building entirely new.
However, many alderman said they’d like to see a new bathhouse and bathrooms, and possibly investigate a lazy river or other amenities. Requested information included the costs to build, operate and maintain an aquatics facility, as other communities have.
Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said he’d like a final city council decision by the first meeting in July for a pool rehabilitation, like-new facility; or a new facility; or something in between for an aquatics facility.
At least seven aldermen voiced support of refurbishing the pool instead of building new. Some said they want to look at all possible options still.
Ward 3 Alderwoman Heidi Pertell said she was “shocked” when shown the condition of the pool, its cracks and crumbling portions, especially after her family used it last year.
“It definitely needs something done to it,” she said.
Ward 5 Alderman Mike Puhr said aldermen received an email from a Chicago area company that he supports researching more on what they could do to reline the pool and put in new gutters, etc.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Carolyn Wands said in talking with constituents, most favored the lower cost, more feasible refurbishment which would be a like new pool. She said the city could save money for more improvements in the future.
Mayor Williams said the aldermen need to make a decision soon or the pool will also be closed in 2023. As of now, it will be closed this year and next year, as the aldermen decide what to do with the pool which has safety issues.
Also at Tuesday’s Danville City Council meeting, with a vote of 8-5, with one alderman abstaining, the council approved the acquisition of 101 W. North St., the former Danville Township building, at the northwest corner of North and Walnut streets, for it to be demolished.
Estimated cost for asbestos abatement and demolition is $200,000 to $250,000, with Danville Township paying $40,000 initially and $10,000 later.
The building has been vacant for about two years. It has leaks, mold, plumbing and other issues.
“I don’t think this is the time to spend the money on that,” said Ward 4 Alderman Mike O’Kane.
He’s still concerned about other buildings, one being Paxton Warehouse near Griggs Street, that still hasn’t been torn down.
“That building’s not going to fall down on someone,” O’Kane said, of the Danville Township building. “I don’t think it’s necessary right now.”
Mayor Williams said the city can only demolish what it owns, and has the rights to. He said the city can’t tear any dilapidated building down that someone else owns.
Ward 3 Alderwoman Sharon Pickering said she has mixed emotions about the demolition and spending that much of the city’s demolition funding.
She’s also worried about setting a precedent. Other businesses would like to give the city their buildings and have the city pay to demolish them, she said.
Williams said it’s not the intent of the city to accept other buildings. The city is interested in some buildings on main thoroughfares, and in project areas for redevelopment or infrastructure.
With this building being right near the heart of downtown, “I hate it as well,” Mayor Williams said about having to demolish it. “But unfortunately it’s something we have to address.”
Williams also said this isn’t an either or situation. The city will continue demolishing dilapidated structures in neighborhoods too with other funding sources.
Ward 1 Alderman Brenda Brown and Robert Williams also said it’s not a good time to use money for this building, and they don’t see the emergency need.
“I just can’t support this right now,” Brown said.
Puhr, who abstained from voting due to his involvement with the adjacent Masonic Temple, but Ward 2 Alderman Rick Strebing didn’t, said the Masonic Temple could work with the city and possibly help financially. Puhr said they’d like to see a possible addition to the Masonic Temple, and more parking downtown.
“I think it’d be a great idea to get it down,” Puhr said of the Danville Township building.
Aldermen voting against it were Robert Williams, Brown, O’Kane, Pertell and Tricia Teague.
The council also discussed: bi-weekly collection of yard waste has started in the city; and how Seminary Street was cleared for safety to be reopened due to the railroad overpass fixes but there was one small area on the northwest side of the tracks that wasn’t secured above the sidewalk area, city officials said. Loose gravel can fall down through that hole, and the city is keeping that side of the sidewalk closed until the hole is closed.