Local

Deadline Set For Park District To Replace Unsafe Pool Drains

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(CBS)

John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Park District is working to meet a June 15 deadline for installing safer drains in 38 outdoor swimming pools.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the Illinois Department of Public Health is now requiring new domed drains, after safety advocates said that high-suction flat drains had killed 36 people and seriously another 150 by 2009.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Among those who died was Virginia Graeme Baker, 7, the granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III, who died after being stuck to a hot tub drain with a faulty cover in McLean, Va., in 2002.

The Chicago Park District has installed the domed drains in 27 indoor pools and 10 outdoor pools. But another 38 outdoor pools have yet to be finished according to a district spokesman who said: “We’re aiming to have the majority up and running by June 15.”

Illinois Public Health Engineer Craig Steinheimer says upgrades range from the simple replacement of the drain to pool reconstruction. The price tags run the risk of being hefty.

“A couple hundred (dollars) for just a standard grate replacement – you know, once you get into breaking up concrete and stuff, that can easily get to a thousand,” he said.

An April 3 list shows 240 pools not in compliance out of the 4,000 across the state.

Among the Park District pools not yet in compliance are:
• Abbott Park at 95th and State streets,
• Armour Square Park, 3309 S. Shields Ave.,
• Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Blvd.;
• Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk St.

Also with work to do on pools according to the state are Amundsen, DuSable, Foreman and Fenger high schools.

Among the commercial enterprises on the state’s list of pools still to be fixed are the Intercontinental and the Holiday Inn O’Hare.