ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Superintendent Todd Bex with a display showing the deteriorating conditions of the William Grady pool and the bathhouse building.

The Belvidere Park District Aquatics Services Committee provided an update on the William Grady Pool and pool facilities study that it has been working on for the past seven months at Prairie Fields Park on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The committee was established to help shape the future of aquatic services in the Belvidere Township community. It will also provide the community a last chance for input on future aquatic needs.

The BPD feasibility study for a new community aquatic center will close in another week, so if you have not yet given them your input to help them better understand the community’s needs and expectations, now is the time to do it.

The William Grady Pool was originally built in 1939 and has had ongoing maintenance issues that limit the facility’s functionality. It was replaced in 1986, yet continuously loses thousands of gallons of water daily to failing expansion joints and gutter leaks.

-The pool and bathhouse need to be brought up to current building code standards.

-While the pool’s closure due to COVID-19 this season has allowed the park district to address many issues, money spent now on the pool only provides temporary repairs and not sustainable solutions.

-According to a Belvidere Park District public survey, operational hours, overcrowding, and lack of amenities/attractions are the most restrictive reasons preventing the public from using William Grady Pool.

-A pool filter bid replacement in 2017 cost $170,000, at which time the park board postponed the project until a clear direction for the facility’s future could be determined.

“The filter is about 50 years old,” said Superintendent of Parks Todd Bex. “If we fire it up next year, I think we will only be open for a week. We looked at pulling out the filter three years ago and having it cleaned and refurbished. We would have had to open up the roof to get it out and then send it to California.

“The decks are failing and the gutter seams and joints leak. The bathhouse roof leaks something terrible causing water damage. The whole roof needs to be redone.”

“We’ve been trying to get the word out about the pool and get the community engaged in the pool issue,” said Mark Pentecost, executive director of the Belvidere Park District. “We’ve had issues with the failing filtration system and the cost to get it up to speed now is $2 million.

“It is hard to grow the facility in Belvidere Park. There are restrictions based on the size of the site and the kind of facility that would serve the community for the next 340 years‒based on what the community has indicated they would like to see.”

-A public survey was released in February to ask residents about their preferences on aquatic facilities in the Belvidere community, with more than 300 responses to date.

-Eighty-five percent of survey respondents are open to a new aquatic center location if it meant an updated facility. After discussions with the park district, the aquatic committee recommends Prairie Fields as the new site due to its ability for growth and expansion.

-Nearly 80 percent of respondents support an indoor facility and nearly 84 percent support an outdoor facility.

Examples of the type of facilities being considered include:

-Outdoor facility only: Stingray Bay, Huntley

13,600 square feet; zero-depth entry with play features, water slides, diving boards, competition swim lanes, and shade structures; funding requires referendum to bond for project; potential for pool opening in 2024

-Indoor facility only: YMCA of Rock Valley, Northeast Branch, Rockford

53,200 square feet; zero-depth entry with play features, water slides, competition swim lanes; requires partnerships to fund construction; timeline dependent on these partnerships and funding sources

-Hybrid example: Northwestern Medicine Health & Fitness Center, Huntley

119,600 square feet; two separate aquatic facilities with slides and swim lanes; requires partnerships to fund construction; timeline dependent on these partnerships and funding sources

“The big issue right now is the location,” Pentecost said. “Belvidere Park on Lincoln Ave. is more centrally located in a residential area but there would be sound and light pollution issues with a larger aquatics facility with expanded hours if we keep it there. If the new facility is placed in the Prairie Fields location, it has room to expand and the noise and light pollution issues for the neighbors would not be a problem and there would be fewer objections. Plus, studies show that the northwest area of Belvidere is where the community is growing.

“Funding issues are still in very preliminary stages until decisions have been made about what kind of facility is needed/wanted.

“A realistic timeline for the new facility is approximately four to five years to completion.”

For more information, contact Mark Pentecost at or call 815-547-5711.


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