With business plan in place, Rutherford Pool rebuild effort nears the home stretch
On Jan. 10, the Friends presented to the Ypsilanti City Council a picture of how the pool will be managed and operated when a rebuild is complete.
AnnArbor.com file photo by Tom Perkins
"People are just really excited. They're telling us every day how excited they are that this is actually a reality," said Friends Director John Weiss.
Per a memorandum of understanding signed with the city, the Friends group was to develop a business and operating plan that Council will approve. The city owns the pool, but it is the 501c3 Friends board that is responsible for its management.
Offering that plan is the latest step in the two-year effort to save the 40-year pool, which is suffering from extensive structural and mechanical issues. The city does not assume any financial responsibility but is the employer of record because that arrangement provides governmental immunity and lowers the pool's insurance rates.
So far, the Friends group has received around $650,000 in donations and grants. Of that, $273,000 is from individual and corporate grants, $300,000 was awarded through a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission provided a $50,000 grant, and Ypsilanti Township donated $10,000.
The group also has an endowment fund with $27,000 and, if possible, is trying to raise an additional $60,000 so it can build a pool with eight lap lanes instead of six.
Annual and day-pass costs will increase slightly for adults but will remain the same for youths. Friends board member David Bates said the prices are still lower than most other area pools. A family pass good for 14 weeks would cost $220, while an individual pass will cost $65. Youth entrance fees remain the same at $2.50 and $1.75 in the daytime and evening, respectively.
"We want to make sure that young people have access to the pool," Weiss said.
The board will hire two managers who will work full time in the summer months and part time the rest of the year. Additional life guards and staff for the summer season also will be hired.
The Friends group is projecting $97,500 in revenues and $84,700 in expenditures in their first year with the new pool.
Bates said the group expects to see a small decrease in revenues in subsequent years because more people will likely buy memberships after the rebuild. When the pool last closed and reopened, attendance jumped, he said.
“With all of the attention given to the pool and publicity we’ve garnered, we think it’s reasonable to anticipate a significant increase in pool use this year,” Bates said.
The Rutherford Pool sees around 17,000 visits annually, and 150 families hold passes. Daily visits during the summer range between 200 and 500.
The Friends group has managed the pool since the city closed its parks and recreation department in 2003, and city officials have made clear they are not eager to get back in the business of running the pool. When questioned by Mayor Paul Schreiber about how the group's long-term commitment, Weiss offered assurances that the board would still manage the pool or have management in place 10 to 15 years into the future.
Council Member Dan Vogt said he was proud of all the work the group has accomplished over the last year.
“This entire process has been just phenomenal,” he said. "Many of us looked at this a year ago and thought it was a longshot, but all of you have proven just the opposite. It is an outstanding effort and a success.”