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It's been a summer oasis in Stoneleigh since 1925

Towson Times
Sisters Minda Wesley and Shauna Kieff are symbols of summer at Stoneleigh Pool, which will turn 90 in August.

Sisters Minda Wesley and Shauna Kieff aren't twins, but they're so alike, you might look twice.

Wesley, 33, and Kieff, 30, are both teachers. They live together in Nottingham and their cellphone numbers are off by a single digit.

They're also starting their second summer as co-managers of the Stoneleigh Pool, which is run by DRD Pool Management Inc., on behalf of the Stoneleigh Community Association's pool board.

Sitting for an interview in the lifeguard office they share with Stoneleigh Citizens on Patrol, they often finished each other's sentences. Both wore shorts, DRD T-shirts and sunglasses perched on their sandy brown hair.

They chuckled over their similarities.

"We get that all the time," Wesley said. She said the best way to tell them apart at the pool is that she goes barefoot and "Shauna wears shoes."

"That's the way people tell who's who," agreed Kieff, who wore sandals.

Kieff and Wesley are symbols of summer at the bustling pool, which will turn 90 years old in August. Tucked between hilly houses with manicured lawns between Hatherleigh and Tred Avon roads, it has about 500 households as members and is also the home of the Stoneleigh Sharks swim team.

The pool's annual budget is roughly $200,000, including a capital fund for future major repairs and improvements.

"At some point, we'll have to rebuild that whole pool," said David Frisch, president of the Stoneleigh Community Association's volunteer pool board.

The pool is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

"There's so many hours that we just split the hours," Kieff said.

It's an ambitious pool. The staff, which includes 30 lifeguards and two assistant managers, oversees a main pool, three to 10 feet deep, with six lap lanes and a diving board endorsed by many a young cannonballer. There's also a smaller, fenced-in baby pool with a splash pad and fountains.

There's no concession stand, but several vending machines and picnic tables near two large cooking grills that families can share. (One was broken last week and was being replaced.)

And it isn't just hot dogs and hamburgers they're cooking.

"Sometimes people are pretty elaborate," Kieff said. "A lot of people make a day of it."

Her sister said it's not unusual to see people grilling "big, thick ribeye steaks" and peppers and onions.

For those who prefer to order pizza or other carryout, there's a loudspeaker to announce that the food has arrived.

Other features of the pool include a stage, where a Lutherville-based band called the Luther Villains played during a recent Adult Night.

There's a basketball court, where a league of fathers plays, and where Rob Bair, visiting from Lancaster, Pa., shouted, "There it is!" as his 3-year-old grandson, Hudson Vink, made a herculean underhanded shot that hit nothing but net.

There's a large sandbox, where Hudson later played with a toy truck.

"Doesn't this make us want to go to the beach?" asked his mother, Leslie Vink, former director of admissions for Johns Hopkins University.

There's a tent and table area for first aid, plus a protocol in place for calling 911 and parents in case of more serious injuries or emergencies. The protocol hasn't been needed, "not since we've been managing, knock on wood," Kieff said.

And there's a separate brick bathroom building with a slate roof and a cupola with a clock. On one exterior wall is a big blue board listing Stoneleigh Sharks who hold swimming records.

Prominent on the board is the late Louis Lowenthal, a 14-year-old Towson High School freshman who died in 2013 after being found unconscious in the Meadowbrook pool in Mount Washington where he was training with his high school team. An autopsy determined that his death was accidental, caused by complications of partial drowning, according to a report by the Baltimore Medical Examiner's Office.

The pool also has a volleyball area with no net, where people play Four Square, and a ping-pong table.

"We're getting another table because it's so popular," Wesley said.

At the foot of the pool's flagpole is a plaque commemorating locals who died while serving in World War II.

Citizens on Patrol hangs several patrol bikes from the ceiling of the lifeguard room on a pulley system. Kieff said there's talk of building a combination first aid station and lifeguard headquarters and turning the current building over to the anti-crime group.

The pool is also a popular party spot for children. Brooks Markle won't turn 8 until July, but with summer vacations in mind, his mother, Jennifer Bowers, threw an early birthday party for him, attended by a dozen of his friends, all students at Stoneleigh Elementary School.

Stoneleigh residents can become members of the pool immediately, but residents of surrounding neighborhoods go on a waiting list.

A staff member sits at the entrance to check people in, near a bulletin board, on which piano teachers advertise lessons and would-be nannies give out their contact information.

The pool is so popular that Bowers said she and her family were on a waiting list for four or five years. Bowers said it was frustrating because they live on Register Avenue on the border of Anneslie and Stoneleigh, and all the people on the Stoneleigh side of the street got in right away.

But that frustration was forgotten June 19 as Brooks emerged from the main pool, dripping wet. He couldn't think of a better place to celebrate his birthday.

"You can swim," he said. "There's a diving board. It's cool for a party."

For Bowers, it's just a cool pool.

"We love it," she said. "It's convenient and nice and in the neighborhood."

Most of all, the pool is a place to relax, whether on a weekend, after work or on a day off, which is what Patricia Watson had as she sunned herself in a chaise lounge at poolside. She had been there for several hours, and her older son, Madoc, 11, had already gone home.

But her younger son, Rowan, 6, was still playing in the pool.

"As soon as we could get in, we started" as members, said Watson, 41, of Stoneleigh, who is the sustainability manager for Towson University and got the day off. She said she and her husband, Dustin, an architect, take the family at least once a week, usually in the evening, and either order pizza or pack a dinner.

Watson said the pool was a big factor in their decision to move to Stoneleigh — and took some of the sting out of leaving Wyman Park in North Baltimore.

"It's a sense of community," she said. "There's a health and wellness component. It's what people look for when they look for a neighborhood."

Frisch, who is in his third season as pool board president, also has a passion for the pool.

"One of the crown jewels of the community is the pool," said Frisch, 43, a six-year resident of Stoneleigh and senior director of digital user experience for the University of Maryland's University College, in College Park. He said he volunteered to serve as pool board president because, "It's a community of volunteers. I wanted to give back in some way."

The passion of its members makes running the pool a busy summer job for Kieff, a teacher at Chase Elementary School in Middle River, and Wesley, who recently left her job at Long Reach High School in Columbia and starts a new job in late August at the Severn School in Anne Arundel County.

Wesley and Kieff are on the run a lot, checking the pool chemicals hourly, making sure the pumps in the pump room are running efficiently and calling DRD for routine maintenance that the co-managers can't handle.

On Friday, a worker was there to change an underwater light bulb.

"It's something out of our skill set," Kieff said.

"Because it involves electricity under water," Wesley chimed in.

Wesley had lived in Ohio for eight years when she decided to move back to Baltimore to be closer to her family. When Kieff got the opportunity to manage the Stoneleigh Pool last summer, she said to her sister, "Why don't you and I co-manage?"

They suggested it to DRD, "and they ran with it," Kieff said.

Now, the two sisters are running with it.

"It's just a fun atmosphere," Wesley said as classic rock blared from the loudspeaker system. "We have a great staff. We don't really encounter too many issues, and nothing we can't handle. The members are very welcoming and friendly."

She said the most complicated question they are asked on most days is, "Do you have an extra fork?"

Said Kieff, "We're people people. It's a great summer job."

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