Woodland Pool Club

The sign on the gate of the entrance to the Woodland Pool.

MANSFIELD -- The Woodland Pool has made serious strides after its board announced it would be closing almost one year ago.

"The pool had some difficult times," said Sarah Esmont, a member of the newly rejuvenated club board. "Nearly a year ago, the board said we were out of money."

For families who had been members of the private, neighborhood pool for generations -- like Esmont and her clan -- shock, panic and activism followed.

She and eight others took over day-to-day operations of overseeing the pool via an interim-board. They were tasked with fundraising and revitalizing the pool. With the success, the board dropped its interim name late last summer.

"We started selling signs (sponsorships), we had a massive discount on memberships," Esmont said.

For years, the pool had been self-sufficient, earning money from Woodland residents who held memberships. But Esmont explained demographics had shifted. Memberships evaporated each summer, and the pool no longer made enough money to cover regular maintenance costs as well as expenses for pool supplies and chemicals.

"Last year we had maybe 90 memberships, which was not enough, so we just slashed prices and did a lot of advertising. There were a lot of people in the neighborhood that didn't know we existed," Esmont said. "It used to be you had to be in the Woodland neighborhood to join, but when memberships declined, we opened it up to anyone.

"You can live in Ontario if you want to. You just have to apply."

By the end of that summer, the neighborhood pool had enough money to stay open. With the help of volunteer labor -- estimated at about $10,000 -- structural issues with the 71-year-old pool were fixed as well.

"We've got momentum," Esmont said of the club's current financial status year. "We need maybe $10,000 to make it through the winter."

Esmont said there are annual operational costs for the pool both with buying chemicals and affording life guards.

The pool has about 170 family memberships this summer. If and if it can continue to entice new members, Esmont hopes to have 200 members next summer.

If that goal is reached, it would help the pool become self-sufficient again.

"We're fighting to stay open so we can provide this for another 70 years," she said. "My grandfather was one of the charter members of the club, my mother grew up here, my sisters and I grew up here and now my great niece and nephew will become members. There's a lot of woodland families that are like that."

Woodland Club board president Dawn Kitchen said she is excited about the pool's new community involvement. They throw events open to the public including movie nights and music nights.

"It's about being a part of the community," she said.

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Staff Reporter

Noah Jones is host to The Open Mic Podcast -- available on Apple Podcasts! He is the crime, education and music reporter for Richland Source. He is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and a giant Cardinals fan.