Last week, we brought you the Go West “Pooley Awards,” celebrating what’s great about the public pools, beaches, splash parks and spraygrounds (mostly owned and operated by park districts) in the far western ‘burbs. This week, we want to suggest five changes that could be made to make them even better.
Bring Your Own: Most of the aquatic parks don’t allow you to bring your own food and drink inside. That means if you’re at the pool over lunch or dinnertime, you’re going to have to pay $3 or $4 a sandwich for concession food that’s not healthy and usually not too stellar in quality, either. With sides and drinks, a concession bill for a family can quickly top $25. Aquatic parks should let visitors bring in their own coolers with food to eat in the concession area. The kids will still likely end up buying popsicles or ice cream. But I’m all for vigilantly enforcing the “no eating by the pool” rule.
All in the Family: A few of the newer aquatic parks have family restrooms, but they’re not that common overall. I know it’s a space issue, but family restrooms are a godsend when you have a adventurous toddler who likes to climb out from underneath the stall or changing room curtain while mom is getting dressed. I’m sure they’re appreciated by larger families, too, when one mom is trying to keep track of a group of young kids. And of course they’re useful for dads taking their daughters to the restrooms.
More Hooks!: Please add some more hooks and shelves to the bathhouses. The floors are always sandy and wet – and while you might be lucky enough to find space on a bench on which to to balance your beach towel and bag, it usually ends up falling to the messy floor. Ick.
Special Needs: Centennial Beach in Naperville is hosting four nights this summer for swimmers with special needs, saying the Sunday evenings provide a “quieter, more relaxed atmosphere.” Every pool should do something similar.
Stormy Weather: Most of the aquatic parks and splash parks have a strict “no refund” policy if weather forces the pool to close. But how about issuing a coupon for several dollars off – or buy one, get one free – for a return visit? The coupon could even be stamped with the date the pool closed early, and the park district could require patrons to use it within a week or two of it being issued.
Note: To read the reader suggestions made when this first appeared on the home page, click here.