The Nob Hill Swim Club came close to drying up this year, it's 36-year-old pool deteriorated and desperately in need of repairs.
But after rejecting the terms of several loans to repair the pool, the club was able to finance the work and the pool is expected to reopen later this month.
The Rolling Acres Improvement Association probably would have closed the pool, one of the oldest in Howard County, if it hadn't obtained a $50,000 loan for the repairs, said Gina Mclean, vice-president of the pool club.
"We had two options," she said. "One, open the pool under existing conditions and pray a lot that it held up another year; or not open," she said.
"We probably would not have opened," she said.
"I would have been pretty miserable," said Mary Simmons, who said she visits the pool every day during the summer with her three young children, ages 1 to 6.
Residents said 125 families use the pool, and as many as 60 people swim there on scorching summer days.
"It's a big part of everyone's life," said Robin Truax, president of the neighborhood association. "A lot of people would not have had a place to swim [if it had closed.] It would have been devastating," she said.
"This is not so much building a pool, but building a community," Ms. Mclean said. "This pool represents a place where we can gather. A safe place, a place where our children can play."
Situated next to a Patapsco River tributary, the pool is surrounded by shade trees, a grassy lawn, a children's swing set, and picnic tables.
The swim club had saved about $20,000 for improvements, but it chose to spend only $5,000 on new pool construction, said Ms. Mclean, who wants to save the rest of the money for other capital improvement projects such as building a new foot bridge over the stream, and replacing the bathhouse roof.
The $5,000 wasn't nearly enough to restore the pool, which had deteriorated so badly that its concrete shell couldn't withstand routine replastering.
"It's been patched up for years," Ms. Mclean said. "Cracks, caulking -- things were patched and repatched over the course of the years."
After careful thought, the association decided to apply for a loan, but wound up visiting five or six financial institutions before securing one.
Many institutions required members of the Rolling Acres Improvement Association, which operates the pool, to put up their homes as collateral.
One bank even demanded that 100 homeowners put up their houses as collateral against the loan for the restoration, Ms. Mclean said.
To qualify for the 10-year, Commercial & Farmers Bank loan they finally agreed to, the association had to put up its three-acre swim club as collateral and demonstrate its ability to save.
"We decided to take the plunge and borrow the money," said Ms. Mclean, adding that the association raised the family pool membership fee by $25 to $340 a year.
Members are using the money to enlarge the former 60-foot-by-30-foot pool to 59 feet by 45 feet by 29 feet. The new, L-shaped pool will be a foot deeper and have a larger shallow end to accommodate the nearly 200 children who use the pool.
Pools Unlimited Inc. began construction last month and expects to finish by the second or third week in May, Ms. Mclean said.