Ypsi's Rutherford Pool wins two state-level awards for major renovation project, community service

Ypsilanti's Rutherford Pool has won two state-level awards over the last two years. The Friends of the Rutherford Pool received an mParks Community Service award for 2020, and a renovation of the pool's bathhouse recently received an mParks Facility Design Award for the 2021-2022 season. 

Evan Sweet, chair of Ypsilanti's Parks and Recreation Commission, will attend a ceremony March 6 as part of the 2022 mParks annual Conference in Traverse City and accept the latter award on behalf of the project. mParks, also known as the Michigan Parks and Recreation Association, is an advocacy and education organization for Michigan parks.

Rutherford Pool, located in Recreation Park on Ypsilanti's Southside, underwent a $1.05 million remodel between 2012 and 2014. A successful crowdfunding campaign in 2019 for the bathhouse renovation netted more than $74,000, garnering matching funds of $50,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Bathhouse construction started at the end of 2019 with an expected completion date of late spring 2020. The pool was supposed to reopen to the public in 2020, but the pool's board decided to wait to reopen until 2021. Sweet says the project was submitted for a design award in 2020, but the award committee wanted to wait to see the facility in operation.

"After the pool opened in 2021 and the bathhouse was unveiled, we were able to nominate it again after a season of full use by the general public," he says.

Sweet says he thinks the project won the design award because of the unique challenge of updating a building from the '70s. The interior layout was totally rethought while leaving the exterior walls intact.

"They took it from a very outdated place to incorporate a larger family space and gender-neutral locker room space, as well as updating amenities not touched in decades," Sweet says. "The incorporation of solar panels was something I think stuck out to the judges as well."

Sweet says he hopes the awards will bring attention to "the only public outdoor pool in eastern Washtenaw County."

"If people haven't had a chance to visit Rutherford Pool, this coming summer will be a good opportunity to do so and see the things that have changed," Sweet says.

More information about, and photos of, the renovation are available here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo by Kris Greenfield of KG Creative Photography, LLC.