Ypsilanti's Rutherford Pool received a $1.05 million makeover between 2012 and 2014, and now pool supporters hope the community will support a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign to update the pool's aging bathhouse.
"The hope was always to renovate or replace the bathhouse, (which is) also now getting on 50 years old," says John Weiss, board chair for the Friends of the Rutherford Pool.
Weiss says supporters of the pool, located at 975 Congress St. inside Recreation Park, felt the community had already "really stretched itself" to donate toward the pool rebuild. Supporters felt it wouldn't be prudent to ask for additional funds for the bathhouse at that time.
But after opening up the renovated pool in 2014 and seeing strong attendance each summer since, pool supporters decided the aging bathhouse is ready for some TLC. Plumbing and electrical systems need updates, as does the exterior.
"You can't even turn on the lights for the locker rooms inside the locker rooms. You have to go to the utility room to turn on the lights," Weiss says. "Last year, when we were opening for the season and turned the electricity on, water came shooting out of one of the electrical outlets."
Renovating the bathhouse also provides an opportunity to build a new family or gender-neutral bathroom, which has been requested during community input sessions, Weiss says.
Weiss says various fundraisers and matching grants netted the bathhouse project $600,000 in 2018, but there's another $100,000 left to go.
As of late January, the Patronicity campaign had netted just over $17,000 in support. Pool supporters must raise the rest of the $50,000 total by March 7 to gain $50,000 in matching funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The bathhouse renovation will make the whole pool complex a more attractive place to stage the many community outreach projects staff and board members have planned. A two-year grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund, for instance, will pay for free family passes and a summer program in conjunction with the Parkridge Community Center that will offer a week of free swim lessons to local children, Weiss says.
"The pool has been in existence since the early 1970s and has always been a place that focused on children, youth, and families. It's there to serve everybody in the community, including seniors, black, white, brown, gay, or straight," Weiss says. "It's a place where everybody finds something recreationally, or they learn to swim or just hang out. It's one of those places ... where the community gathers."
A history of the pool can be found here. To donate to the fundraising effort, visit the Patronicity page for the project.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Friends of Rutherford Pool. Architectural drawings by David Esau.