Popular Backyard Pools Could Sink Public Pools

Popular Backyard Pools Could Sink Public Pools
By: Lauren Keith
HERRIN, IL -- There's no doubt, the city pool in your hometown is a popular spot this week.  But in Herrin, Illinois--- this is the second summer the town will go without a public pool!
The pool is more than 50 years old, and remains closed.

Herrin Park District members have everything ready to go to break ground on a new pool… but the money.

And now, the Park District President fears something that’s growing very popular in your backyard may just be the end to his dreams of a new city pool in Herrin.

"It's very frustrating, it is, and I feel very sorry for the kids not having an outlet to cool off in the summer," says Park Board Pres. David Rancilio.

But several kids do have a place to take a dip---- right in their own backyard.

These smaller--- and usually affordable--- pools are being blown up all across Herrin, and throughout the Heartland.

In fact, Heartland News spotted about a dozen of these small, blue inflatable pools in just a two-block radius, of the old Herrin public pool!

"Everybody in the neighborhood does have a pool!" admits Jessica Perkins of Herrin.

"It doesn't take up a lot of space. It's easy to take down in the wintertime, it was inexpensive really," adds Herbert Hill, another backyard pool owner in Herrin.

It's a trend the city park district is following closely. 

"That has hurt our business, no doubt. Twenty years ago, it wasn't something everyone could afford and like you said, you can go to Wal-Mart and buy one for $300. Still, people want to get out into a regular-sized pool," says Park Board Pres. Rancilio.

Rancilio says something else also has changed in the last twenty years--- he claims pools built these days now have to attract even younger swimmers.

And that's exactly why blueprints for a new city pool include making it a place similar to a water park.

"Exactly-- what we've got now is a hole in the ground.  You get in, you get wet, you get out. We feel if we get something exciting, kids will love it and enjoy it," says Rancilio.

The new pool plan is also something this backyard pool owner says even he'll support.

"Oh yes, yes. I see the kids walking to the park all the time and I know they'd enjoy it," said Herbert Hill.

So, the park district's next plan is to possibly get a bond referendum on the ballots as early as next spring, to see if Herrin voters will support a new pool... with their pocketbooks.