OAK BROOK, Ill. — When Illinois faced its shutdown in March 2020, the Village of Westmont and its recreation leaders collaborated to provide safe ways for the community’s recreation facilities to open. The new FMC Natatorium at Ty Warner Park (FMC) and the Westmont Park District wanted to deliver outlets needed for physical and mental health and have found a way to do that.
On Sept. 16, the new Olympic-caliber FMC swimming and diving facility opened for its first splash. Considered in line with the top 10 indoor facilities in the country, due to MaryAnn Kaufman’s vision as founder, the FMC offers a 50-meter competition pool with two moveable bulkheads to allow for different configurations. The facility also includes a 25-yard training pool with separate entrances, bathrooms and on-deck showers.
The two pools and their multiple entrances bathrooms and showers, separate locker rooms and other innovations provide comfort, normalcy and safety, according to developers.
With proactive and early planning by the FMC team, the FMC swim club, 12 outside swim clubs, the High-Performance National Team and master’s Swimming can maintain schedules on the calendar that are safe within the facility.
The initial intent of the 18- to 19-foot deck space around the competition pool was for large events, but it is now proving helpful during times of social distancing.
Early this month, FMC will be able to safely accommodate three swim clubs at a time and plans for accepting public inquiries and expanding community program is underway. In facility standards, the air quality is second to none because of a $3.5 million ventilation system with five separate units controlling different parts of the building. Installation of the Defender Filtration System – considered to be the best in the world – ensures the best water quality.
New safety measures in place include 15-minute buffers between practices, active management of arrivals and departures and no parents in the building. Clearing areas for testing along with 15-foot spacing of pool lines and eight feet of spacing on the deck with masks are also mandated. Locker rooms are not being used and facility cleanings take place throughout the day. FMC officials said active communication with coaches, organizations and the public are also among the most important parts of the safety protocols.
The Park District also retrofitted all restrooms with touchless pulls at places such as Twin Lakes Golf Club, which allowed for this year’s Senior Golf League to continue. Summer Day Camps continued under new guidelines and the Fitness Club found ways to open safely to make people feel comfortable.
“We’ve proved we can operate and keep our participants safe by being sensible and following best practices,” said Westmont Park Executive Director Bob Fleck. “As fall and winter approach, we are prepared to adapt and respond, focused on our mission to enrich through recreation. I hope people can use this time to not only develop healthy habits but continue enjoying and appreciating the simple pleasures of being in a park, taking a walk or going to a bike ride, long after COVID-19 has passed.”
Beth Marchetti, executive director of the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “FMC and the Westmont Park District are just two reasons why DuPage is one of the healthiest destinations in Illinois. They represent the gold standard, not just in Illinois but throughout the United States. As we weather this pandemic, DuPage County’s 500 miles of trails, outdoor amenities and attractions and recreation partners continue to play an important role for residents and those in need of a safe getaway.”