Nichols Park Pool Renovation Breathes New Life, City Awarded 2019 Grant as Alternate

By Jeremy Coumbes on April 14, 2021 at 12:16pm

A project to rehab the Nichols Park swimming pool that was shelved in 2019, is seeing new life.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard announced at the start of the City Council’s workshop session Monday night, his office had been informed that a grant has been approved for the Nichols Park Pool project.

In 2019 the city applied for an OSLAD grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The program is a state-financed matching grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for the acquisition and/or development of land for public outdoor recreation areas.

Ezard says the proposed improvements were worked through extensively at the time by both the Parks and Lakes Committee and the Council.

We felt we had a good plan moving forward as far as some upgrades to the facility. A new gutter system, install a new deck, replace a surge tank, install a new zero-depth entry and concrete deck area, and things like that.

So some pretty good improvements and we were finally able to get that grant. It was denied the first time however I believe there were some communities that didn’t follow through with their grants so being an alternate, we were able to capture that money and we were happy to announce that on Monday night.”

Ezard says at the time the application was submitted, the estimated cost of the improvements was approximately $820,000 of which the grant would cover half of the costs. He says he anticipates the Parks and Lakes Committee will reevaluate the project to see what changes might need to be made to the plan considering material costs alone possibly being substantially higher than two years ago.

If there are things that we can eliminate that we had on there two years ago that will still make this project effective then we will do that. However, if the Council feels like, hey you know we got some free money for this so let’s go for it and make Nichols Park Pool a very necessary facility in our community”

Ezard says even though the city has taken good care of the pool, it has been showing it’s age for a while.

We’ve done our best for the upkeep, but you know, things age, unfortunately. Looking forward, there was discussion of a whole new pool being placed at Community Park at one time, but that was a major project more on the terms of five to six million dollars. So we felt if we could do some improvements at Nichols Park it would be best. Because a lot of people like going out to Nichols Park. It was a destination for years and we are trying to beautify that constantly, making it attractive and keeping things going so we felt let’s put the money in Nichols Park and make people happy.”

The OSLAD grant funding is for half of the originally planned $820,000 costs. Ezard says there were many options discussed at that time over what should be included in the plan due to the expense. He says if the new city council wants to change things up and add or take away parts of the plan, then they will have that discussion.

The new Jacksonville City Council will be sworn in at the next Council Meeting on Tuesday April, 27th. The meeting was pushed back one day due to conflicts in scheduling with a few of the members.