After 46 years of business, the Rutherford Pool bathhouse will undergo a major renovation at the end of the year that will include plumbing and electrical upgrades as well as adding gender neutral and family changing rooms.
The project, which will also include the installation of solar panels to the bathhouse roof, is estimated to cost $650,000. Money for the renovation is being raised by a nonprofit organization called Friends of the Rutherford Pool. The organization was founded by a group of community volunteers in 2011 in order to rebuild the pool, which was long overdue according to John Weiss, volunteer chair of the board of directors.
“The pool was only supposed to last 25 years when it was built for the kind of construction it had,” Weiss said. “With a lot of love, caulk and duct tape we kept the pool running for 40 years up until about 2007 or 2009 and then we realized the pool was going to crap out because it just structurally wasn’t supposed to last that long.”
Friends of the Rutherford Pool was able to raise over one million dollars to rebuild the pool, which re-opened in 2014. However, the bathhouse was not included in that campaign.
“We didn’t raise enough money to renovate the bathhouse because we simply just couldn’t have a campaign that was that big,” Weiss said. “The community was going to be shutdown. So we left the bathhouse, which was a solid structure, but kind of gross. After the pool had reopened and been running for five years, we decided to do our campaign to renovate the bathhouse.”
In addition to plumbing and electrical needs, creating a space that is welcoming to all people was one of the main incentives for renovating the bathhouse.
“Access is one of our biggest values for the pool, so that means all kinds of things,” Weiss said. “That means making sure that anybody who wants to enjoy the pool can do that regardless of gender, gender expression, socioeconomic status, race, mobility or any social identity you can think of.”
The floor plan for the new bathhouse includes single stall toilets near the front of the building, a unisex restroom and family changing rooms.
“We’re basically going to cut a hallway right down the center of the building,” Weiss said. “You would still go to the right to go the men’s and go to the left to go to the women’s but further down the hall there’s going to be two gender neutral/family changing rooms.”
Nearly 200 donors have contributed to the renovation fund, including local foundations such as the Buhr Foundation, the Knight Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation; which gave $125,000. The State Department of Natural Resources is contributing $300,000 from their Land and Water Conservation Fund. The City of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County are also contributing, as well as many members of the community.
Pending the approval of a contract between the lowest bidder (Phoenix Construction) and the City of Ypsilanti, construction will begin late Nov. or early Dec., according to Weiss. From there, the goal is to have the bathhouse renovation completed by May 2020.
For more information on the Rutherford Pool, visit https://www.forpool.org/.
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