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Pool of volunteers help renovate Summer Hill swim club

Members at Summer Hill Pool in Phoenix are going to make a big splash this Memorial Day weekend.

More than 200 families will celebrate the grand re-opening of two pools built in 1968 that were demolished, rebuilt and enlarged over the winter.

The main pool grew by 1,000-square feet and now holds 162,000 gallons of water. It includes a slide, six lap lanes and dive blocks for the swim team. The walk-in kiddie pool tripled in size and features a splash fountain.

The grand re-opening celebration on May 26 at 11 a.m. will be especially rewarding for members who volunteered their time and talent to help with renovations in order to lower costs of the project.

"We had a core group of 15 to 20 members," said Gary Pichney, the swim club's treasurer. "They spent an incredible amount of time here, time they could have been home with their families, to make this a better place. The club has lasted 44 years, and we want it to last another 44."

Swim club President Drew Manning estimates the volunteers gave more than 1,000 hours and saved $100,000 in labor and material costs. The entire project cost $435,000, he said.

The club's board of directors hired Pinnacle Pools/MSI Arrowhead pool company of Pequea, Pa., for the specialized job of building two new pools, but they did not hire a general contractor.

The makeup of the club's current board was the essential ingredient in making the project work.

Both Manning and vice president Chuck Konkolics are building contractors. They spent countless hours preparing plans, getting permits and convincing subcontractors to give them rock-bottom prices.

Members who volunteered included architect Grant Jenkin, who helped design the plans; Kurt Schneidereith, a contractor who built a stone retaining wall; and Mark Musolf, of MJM Landscaping, who lent his equipment and arranged for the property to be graded and landscaped.

"It's amazing how many people donated their time and helped with this," said Amy Bachran, who manages the 103-member swim team along with Karen MacLaren. "They did a phenomenal job of using the space we have."

The members' self-help ethic started several years ago when they started to repair pool equipment to save money.

"Instead of calling the pool company to see what was wrong with our pool pump, we worked on it ourselves," Manning said.

When Pichney became treasurer in 2007, he began building up a rainy day fund that was invested each year. The main pool had settled and was slightly tilted, so the board knew it would have to be replaced at some point.

When replacement and enlargement plans were completed last year, the club's 254 members were asked to vote on the proposed work. Some 218 voted and 184 approved. There were 29 votes against and five members abstained.

Since the project began, most evenings or weekends saw members and their families doing whatever they could to help things along.

No construction fees were charged to members, but the annual family membership rate went from $475 to $600.

"We're still lower than other pools in the area," Konkolics said, "And we still have some openings."

Although the pool is in the Summer Hill area of Phoenix, membership is not limited to that neighborhood. The pool is located at 13709 1/2 Harcum Road, Phoenix, 21131For details, go to http://www.summerhillpool.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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