Swimmingly: Glencoe and Northbrook park districts like aquatic swap deal
Glencoe and Northbrook park districts have created a swap of beach use for pool use at residential rates. Many people enjoy the beach on July 7. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:20PM
GLENCOE — Less than halfway through the first season, an aquatics swap between the Northbrook and Glencoe park districts seems a winner.
That’s news, because such swaps are far from slam dunks, and have sometimes failed spectacularly elsewhere.
Glencoe residents are now enjoying the use of Northbrook’s two aquatic centers at Northbrook resident rates, and Northbrook residents are getting the same deal to use the Glencoe beach.
In all, Glencoe has sold 785 season-pass beach tokens to Northbrook individuals (195 families), a dozen times more than the previous year, when at non-resident rates.
In Northbrook, where few season pool passes were sold to Glencoe residents last year, 152 individuals — 48 families — have bought them in 2012.
The increase in pool sales may not seem as impressive, but Glencoe’s a fraction of Northbrook’s size.
“I’m very satisfied with those numbers,” Northbrook Leisure Services Manager Eileen Loftus said July 5. “We wanted to provide an opportunity they could take advantage of, and not impact Northbrook residents’ use of the pools. Glencoe is a great size for us to partner with.”
Many Glencoe resident beach-goers may not notice the increase from their neighbors to the west, either, since the size of the bathing beach was doubled this year.
“Neither one of us really received any complaints,” Loftus said.
In 2006, Glenview and Winnetka park districts struck a similar deal, and cancelled it the same year.
Glenview residents, despite a population swollen by The Glen, sent only 160 people to the beach. And not a single Winnetka resident bought a Glenview pool pass.
Observers blamed the failure on the distance between Glenview and Winnetka, especially in view of what happened five years before: In a swap between Wilmette and Winnetka, Winnetkans had flooded Wilmette pools, a much shorter drive.
That deal died due to the other end of the deal, Wilmette’s sparse use of Winnetka’s public golf course.
Dundee Road “definitely seems to have played a role” in the success of the current agreement, said Steve Nagle, interim Glencoe Park District executive director.
“Three stoplights on a four-lane highway, and you’re wet.”
In addition, he thinks that Glencoe has the best beach around, from the new spray-ground playground on the beach to the imposing bluffs above.
And Northbrook has four updated pools, with a diving area and water slides at Meadowhill Aquatic Center, and lap and zero-depth pools featured at the Sports Center.
It may be just the right time for such a deal, as the facilities in both towns are at or near their peaks. Perhaps the only real drawback to any of the three venues is the closure of the Depression-era staircase down to the Glencoe beach, and that’s mitigated by the newly-improved switchback road that’s a favorite access for many, anyway.
The warm May and June may have been a sales factor, but Nagle said the intense heat of July has not seemed to be.
“When it’s 110 degrees, you don’t really have many people coming out to the beach,” he said.
Loftus said that despite the more spectacular amenities at Meadowhill, 1501 Maple Ave., Glencoe users are evenly split between that pool and the smaller Sports Center, 1730 Pfingsten Road.
She thinks the attraction at the Sports Center is the ability of parents to see the whole pool more easily, and the lack of a diving area to worry about.
One of her few regrets so far is the lack of Glencoe interest in Northbrook swimming lessons.
David Johnson, facility manager for the Glencoe beach and Watts Park, thinks the reason is that for many families, kids’ swimming lessons are locked up elsewhere.
“I wonder if parents are getting swimming lessons satisfied at day camp,” he said.
On the beach, Northbrook families pay $105 for the first two people, instead of $170 if they were still considered non-residents.
Similarly, the first two people in a Glencoe family pay $149, instead of $189, for pool passes.
Northbrook has brought in over $8,000 in Glencoe trade so far, and Glencoe has sold $21,376 worth of tokens to Northbrook residents.
By this time of year, most of those who are going to buy season passes have already done so, officials say.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Those who want to get in on the deal now, can do so on a pro-rated basis.