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Posted on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

After 3-year fundraising effort, Ypsilanti community celebrates groundbreaking for Rutherford Pool

By Tom Perkins


The Freinds of the Rutherford Pool celebrate breaking ground on the new pool.

Tom Perkins | For

When the journey that is the effort to rebuild the Rutherford Pool began in early 2010, the pool’s physical shape was grim.

“It was held together literally with duct tape,” Lisa Wozniak , a member of the Friends of the Rutherford Pool, laughed.

On Thursday evening, families, residents, business owners, local leaders, county representatives, state officials and the core group of volunteers in the Friends gathered outside the 40-year-old poolhouse to break ground for the new pool.

They celebrated accomplishing something special - raising more than $1 million in just over three years with the help of 500 to 600 community members to save a local pool many doubted could be saved.

The accomplishment prompted Steve DeBrabander, who manages the Michigan Department Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, to tell the Ypsilanti community and Friends: “You rock!”

“I travel all over the state and meet with lots of different communities, and it just doesn’t come together like this very often,” said DeBrabander, whose fund provided $300,000 toward the rebuild effort. “What it takes is for the community to come together, it takes some serious leadership … and don’t take it for granted; these things don’t happen like this all the time. I’m very impressed with everything you’ve done.”


Friends members Lisa Wozniak and John Weiss

Tom Perkins | For

Cathy Thorburn, who has been at the fore of the effort since it began in early 2010, commended the community members who stepped up to help in both big and small ways.

“Every step has been a different struggle, but there have been many joys that have come out of it. And you find out the skills of the people around you who will pitch in at a moment’s notice. It’s awesome how the community has come together,” she said.

11-year-old Katie Wu recalled her disappointment at the loss of the pool when it closed in 2011 because it became apparent a full rebuild of the deteriorating pool was the only option.

Wu lives nearby with her family and she said she found it a fun spot where she got to meet a lot of new people.

“I was not very happy,” she said. “It’s hot in the summer and it’s a nice place to go - and convenient.”

The pool, at 975 N. Congress St., saw around 17,000 visits annually, and 150 families held passes before it closed. Daily visits during the summer ranged between 200 and 500.

Deanna White and her husband Michael White have a family of five and have dove into the pool for over 25 years. She counted all the pool’s offerings like the swim team, swim lessons or 7 a.m. swim for adults. She recounted how her friends who since moved from Ypsilanti met at the Rutherford Pool and were later married.

Like so many others at the celebration, she and Michael highlighted the community spirit.

“It’s not the effort of the city, but the efforts of the people themselves,” Michael White said. “We love our community pool. And you can’t keep the spirit of the community down. “

Rachel Egherman, who attended the 7 a.m. swim class with Deanna White, echoed that sentiment.


A crew has begun taking apart the old pool.

Tom Perkins | For

“So many people said that we can’t do this and we did it, so that’s why we’re here to celebrate today,” she said.

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation President Cheryl Elliot provided an example of the community spirit. It came in the form of a small donation from two young Ypsilanti expats now living in Seattle who saved and sent their allowance to the Friends.

Friends Chair John Weiss also praised everyone involved for their work and contributions.

“Many people from the outside see Ypsilanti as a struggling or distressed community with few resources, but I think this project tells a much different story,” he said.

“I’m touched when I think of all the people who contributed. I think about everyone who has contributed large and small, and I think about the community that has made this happen. We have an incredibly strong community that rivals any other in the country. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”



Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Finally a GREAT. Ypsilanti story ! Thanks to all those that worked so long and hard to make this possible. We can do it if we TRY! I love it , I remember the pool at WRHS , when I was ten years old, cost was $.20 to get in for two hours , back then it was ten $.02 pop bottles , we got it done too!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Soon enough children of Ypsilanti will have somewhere to be whistled at while unknowingly collecting rouge band-aids in their hair. In all serious though, I love that this was accomplished through hard work and networking. Not a new millage.

Lisa D

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

What a fantastic effort that speaks to the vitality , creativity and closeness of your community! Bravo on this heroic accomplishment! Lisa Dengiz


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Yippee for our new pool, can't wait!!! Looking forward to more shade there as well as swimming!