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Posted on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Friends of the Rutherford Pool in Ypsilanti striving to start rebuilding work in the spring

By Katrease Stafford

The rebuilding of Ypsilanti's municipal pool should begin in 2013, as long as enough funds are secured for the project, city officials said Tuesday.

A consulting firm is expected to give a total cost for the project next month, and then fundraisers will know how far away they are from their goal.

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The Rutherford Pool reopening was delayed by funding problems.

Rutherford Pool, located at 975 N. Congress, is owned and was operated by the city for many years. In 2004, the Friends of the Rutherford Pool, a newly formed nonprofit group, began operating it on behalf of the city. But a lack of funds for necessary repairs forced the pool to close at the end of the 2011 season.

The pool renovation was originally scheduled to be completed this year. The plan had been to begin the bidding process in March and have the pool open by June 15. But the work had to be delayed when state grant money for the project became tied up in the legislative process.

Despite the previous setback, Friends Director John Weiss says he believes the project will continue this time as scheduled.

"We want to have money so we can build this coming spring," Weiss said. "It's going to be really challenging and we know it's not going to be easy, but we feel like we're going to be able to raise enough money. I feel we have a true partnership with the city and the city is very engaged."

In 2011, the city applied for and received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to go toward the renovation project.

One of the grant's stipulations is that the pool must be completed by August 2014, according to City Planner Teresa Gillotti. But the Friends group does not want to move forward until all funds are secured.

"No phase is going to begin unless the Friends have full funding," Gillotti said.

In addition to the grant, the organization has raised nearly $700,000. But the Friends would like to raise an additional $100,000 to $150,000.

Weiss said his group has hired Kadushin Associates, an Ann Arbor based architecture and design firm, to do the consulting and design work for the project. Early projections show the Friends will likely pay at least $60,000 for the firm's consulting services.

"That was more than we were expecting to pay, but they're the best to do it," Weiss said.

Weiss said he does not know what the full cost of the project will be. "Kadushin should have the designs by the third week in October and then I can tell you about how much the pool is going to cost," he told the Ypsilanti City Council.

The council voted Tuesday to transfer complete operation and management of the Rutherford Pool to the Friends and granted the group a 20-year lease.

If the lease is terminated, the grant binds the city to a long-term obligation that requires it to commit the project area to public outdoor recreation use.

The Friends are responsible for financing the design, construction and operation of the pool. However, the city can provide a contribution toward construction costs at its own discretion.

City Manager Ralph Lange said the pool is an asset for the city and its residents.

"We feel very strongly that this was an important amenity," Lange said. "It was having a very diffciult time and we've kind of revived it. I think this is an excellent agreement."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.