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Concession stands at two Polo parks must go

Facility at pool failed to pass inspection

Polo officials are once again fundraising to update facilities at the city’s swimming pool.

Park Board President Larry Loomis said last week that the pool’s concession stand must be torn down because it did not pass a recent inspection.

In a press release Aug. 8, Loomis said inspectors from the Ogle County Health Department found that the building falls short of federal, state, and county requirements, and it needs commercial refrigeration and preparation equipment as well as diaper-changing stations, electric hand dryers, and soap dispensers in the restrooms, in addition to other improvements.

While the concession stand can remain open for the remainder of this year, Loomis said, it will not be allowed to open in 2020 without the changes being made.

The facility must be razed and a new one built by next year to meet the requirements, he said.

The park board and city council have formed a committee to raise the estimated $30,000 to $35,000 needed to build and equip a new 26-foot square concession stand.

The Polo Lions Club has already come through with a donation of labor and $7,000 to begin the fundraising project. 

Donations can be made to an account at the First State Bank, and there will be a 50-50 raffle fundraiser with a drawing Dec. 7 during the annual Winter Carnival.

The city pool opened in 1968 after months of fundraising efforts. The Town and Country Days festival was founded specifically to raise money for the project.

The community again came through in 2013, donating $75,000 to replace the aging bathhouse.

“It is hoped that between donations and the fundraiser that enough money will be raised so that a new facility will be able to be built by next year,” Loomis said. “Unfortunately if not, then there will be no concessions or restroom facilities outside of what is in the pool area until the new building can be built, equipped and paid for.”

To further complicate the situation, the same updates are needed at the concession stand at another city park.

“The city will receive a only a one year variance to having to do the same required updates for the Millard Deuth Westside Park,” Loomis said. “The estimated costs of that project will most likely be similar to the City Park. That project will most likely have to be done by the 2021 season to avoid being closed.”

Polo’s two major parks are funded by the city and not a park district.

“This year’s budget is $129,200,” Loomis said. “There are no full time employees as all work is seasonal and all business is conducted through city hall. There is virtually no money available to the city to do a project of the magnitude necessary to build a new facility.”  

The concession stands at both parks have been leased out for several years because the cost of operating and staffing them is more than the city’s budget allows for, he said.

Polo’s is one of very few public outdoor swimming pools in the area.

People from surrounding communities including Forreston, Dixon, Sterling, and Milledgeville regularly drive there to swim. The pool also offers swimming lessons.