Tinley Park rec center expansion nears
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com June 22, 2012 5:32PM
A rendering of the Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center after it undergoes a planned expansion. | Supplied image
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:05AM
When the Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center in Tinley Park was built, it was with future expansion in mind.
Ten years after the doors opened, the future has arrived.
Bids are due to the Tinley Park Park District this week for construction of a 30,000-square-foot addition to the center at 8125 W. 171st St. The bids are to be opened at 10 a.m. Friday, and the park district board hopes to award contracts at its July 11 meeting.
Rather than renovate the park district’s existing fitness center, which is in a separate building at 17500 Duvan Drive, at an expected cost of about $3.5 million, the park district board decided to expand the Bettenhausen center for an expected $4.5 million price tag, officials said.
“This is something we planned for with the original construction,” park board president Brian Younker said. “The fitness center on Duvan Drive is aging, and we’ve been pouring a lot of money into the place.”
Park district director John Curran said about $1 million will come from existing capital improvement bonds. The district’s levy includes $848,000 a year for capital improvements, Curran said, so a tax increase should not be needed, although it will take a few years to pay it off.
The park district also hopes to sell the Duvan Drive building, which is to remain open until the addition is completed. The asking price is $1.175 million, Curran said.
Curran said expansion was the logical option once fitness center repair costs were estimated.
“One of the biggest problems was the indoor pool at the fitness center. Because it was built before current codes were in place, it was grandfathered in. But renovating it would mean bringing it up to code,” Curran said.
That would mean a lot of expensive work. For example, one end of the pool is three feet from a wall; code calls for a four-foot space.
“To do that, we’d have to cut a lane out of the pool or tear down the wall,” Curran said. “We looked at things and decided to add on to the existing building.”
If a buyer is not found for the Duvan Drive building, it will be demolished and the space used as a maintenance yard for park district vehicles, Curran said.
The construction project will expand the 70,000-square-foot Bettenhausen center by nearly 50 percent. The addition will include an indoor pool with four lanes, one of which will be dedicated to disabled individuals, Curran said. The pool will be 25 yards long, and it will be on the upper floor of the two-story addition designed by Frankfort-based Olivieri Brothers Architects.
In a news release, the firm said the new fitness center will overlook the White Water Canyon Water Park. The addition’s upper level will house the pool, locker rooms, cardio and strength-training areas, Curran said, while the lower level will include a new teen room, and a 41-by-68-foot room that Curran envisions being used for meetings and sports such as floor hockey. A 95-by-22-foot room will be used for a batting cage and pitching practice for baseball and softball players.
“We had a request from one kid that we put a shooting range in there,” Curran said.
Younker said it will be more convenient for park district patrons “to have everything all under one roof.”
The fitness center will have its own entrance near the existing playground on the west side of the rec center. That playground will be closed during construction, which is expected to begin in September after the water park closes for the season.
Construction is expected to take about a year and should not interfere with the 2013 season at the water park, Younker said.