The future of the Riverside Swim Club could be decided as soon as next month. On Aug. 20, the 500 families that make up the private club will vote whether to move ahead with what is expected to be a costly renovation of the facility, built in 1962.
Prior to that vote, however, club officials will try to rally support and educate members on the issues and what’s needed to fix them. That effort kicks off on Tuesday, July 23 at a member information session scheduled for 7 p.m. at Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road.
It’ll be at next week’s meeting that members learn the scope of the proposed renovation, the estimated cost and options for financing the improvements.
“Our current motivation is that we want to see the pool exist for generations to come,” said Riverside Swim Club President Adrian Mendoza. “We want them to have a pool that’s in usable, enjoyable and safe condition.”
Club officials are keeping the actual plans and cost estimates under wraps until the big reveal on July 23. What they would really like is for club members to attend and be involved in the Aug. 20 vote.
According to the club’s bylaws, 51 percent of the entire membership — not just those voting — need to vote affirmatively for the renovation. If that doesn’t happen, the club’s future will be on thin ice.
“If [the renovation plan] is not supported, we would reassess where we stood, where the concerns are and figure out if they can be addressed and how,” said Mendoza.
It’s unclear how the entire membership feels about the plan, but a survey conducted by the club in 2012 revealed widespread support for the idea of renovating the pool — by the 250 or so members who responded to the survey.
According to a summary of the survey on the club’s website, 90 percent of the respondents felt the pool was in need of repair, and 96 percent of respondents felt the swim club was important to the community.
But club members in the past have been wary of undertaking costly renovations to the pool and its buildings, which were built on land once owned by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. A coal storage yard and roundhouse once stood on the land, making any earth-moving operation subject to possible environmental remediation.
In 2005, the club commissioned a condition study and environmental site evaluation. The reports were generated in preparation for renovation at that time, but the general economy and a reluctance by club members to take on the expense stalled the plan.
“I think the reluctance back then was a premature assessment of member willingness to do it,” said Mendoza. There were figures thrown about that predisposed people to say they didn’t want to do it.”
While exact cost estimates are not known — club members reportedly will be provided with a range of options on July 23 — they are expected to be in line with past figures.
The 2005 condition study, which was released to the membership in early 2006, enumerated a host of structural and code issues with the pool and its facilities. Those conditions haven’t changed much and in some cases have gotten worse.
The club’s fall 2012 newsletter stated that the pool (there are actually two pools connected by a series of pipes), which holds 226,650 gallons of water, had to be refilled more than eight times that summer because of leaks. In 2002, the pool had to be refilled six times.
“Our pool is 50 years old and extreme leakage proves the structure is failing,” the newsletter stated.
It’s the urgency of the situation that has changed the minds of the club leadership to avoid more delays in addressing the situation
“What has changed is the realization by the current board that we owe the membership the opportunity to make a decision of how to proceed with the future of the pool,” Mendoza said.
Should the membership vote to move ahead with the renovation, work would begin after the 2014 swim season and be complete by the start of the swim season in May 2015.
For the next month, club leaders will be reaching out to the membership to get them to be involved in the August vote and then attract new members, who will help spread the overall burden.
“Our belief is that a renovation would generate a lot more interest in the pool, push the numbers up and take the burden off existing members,” Mendoza said.