Aqua Center Bathhouse up for $800K Renovation

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(PHOTO: ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The Aqua Center’s bathhouse is scheduled for a major renovation. With help from a $400,000 grant from the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program, a portion of the structure will be converted to an environmental classroom, available year-round to students from Park Forest and beyond. The Village will match the grant for the $800,000 total cost of the renovation. The $400,000 Village share will come from remaining fund balance in the General Fund.

“The northwest corner of the bathhouse, which is now basically a dead storage area, will be the classroom,” Director Joyce said. Plans call for a glass door and windows facing the wetlands. “That’s what they’ll use in the winter time when they bring students – actually all year round.”

The complete interior of the bathhouse will be restructured, Joyce said.

The Village made application last year after the Board of Trustees approved the grant application in June 2008.  Director Joyce said staff made a presentation to OSLAD in October, along with “80 or 90” other communities.

While there is no money in the grant for furnishings, Director Joyce says his staff is working on finding additional funding for computers and additional items. The project is expected to include solar-powered fans, skylights, and the development of an environmental classroom so as to take advantage of the educational benefits of the nearby Central Park Wetlands.

Director Joyce says Emily Kenny and Michelle O’Connor from Multidisciplinary Education for the Environment (ME4E) will continue to teach classes to young people. ME4E already has a strong relationship with School Districts 162 and 163, according to Joyce.

“They have an incredible connection going with 162 and 163. They’re the ones that are bringing classes there all the time.” Joyce said ME4E brought 2,000 students in for classes last year.

ME4E was founded by Emily Kenny and Michelle O’Connor. “They’ve been hugely successful,” Joyce said.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in September after the Aqua Center closes for the season, with the renovation completed before the facility opens in June 2010.