Noting that it did not open for the first time in 62 years last season and that no one can predict what the coming year has in store with the COVID-19 pandemic, a new group called the Hillsboro Swim Organization is making plans to reopen the public pool in the city next year.
Mel McKenzie, president of the organization, said that while the fee structure is still being worked out, the plan is to offer both season and day passes to the public, and for the pool to be open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“This has been a busy year of transition of pool ownership,” McKenzie said. “The merger from the Hillsboro Swimming Pool to our new non-profit 501(c)(3) Hillsboro Swim Organization Inc. (HSO) is almost complete. Our HSO mission is to provide aquatic education, recreation, and charitable opportunities while continuing to serve Hillsboro and surrounding communities. We are actively working on the business plan for 2021, and a strategic plan through 2025, with full intentions to open the pool for the 2021 season.”
The five-year strategic plan has three phases. McKenzie said the first-year plan includes cosmetic improvements like new paint, fence work and general maintenance. The second-year plan includes possible ideas like adding “shade sails” and cabana areas. The plan for years three to five is not yet complete.
“Maybe we’ll add a splash pad area if we can work it in, but it all depends on how things go in years one and two,” McKenzie said.
Fundraising is the key to making it all work, McKenzie said.
The former Hillsboro Swimming Pool shouldered the pool’s ongoing expenses through September of this year. The HSO took over in October.
“Just like at home, the pool has ongoing expenses 12 months a year, not just the months we are open in the summer,” McKenzie said. “For the remainder of 2020, our ongoing monthly expenses will average approximately $800 and will increase in 2021 if the NCB loan is not paid off. The Oct. 31, 2020 HSO balance is $6,531, which includes $1,910 of Mortgage Mania monies. We anticipate approximately $3,500 in legal fees associated with the merger to be paid before year-end, which leaves us $1,121 to meet our monthly expenses. We will continue to create fundraising events to help us stay afloat.”
Another factor is a $100,000 pool loan that was originally taken out in August of 2008. It currently has a balance of $30,363.
“NCB has allowed us to pay escrow only of $150 per month during the merger process versus the normal $878 payment,” McKenzie said. “We have had a very generous non-board member benefactor offer to match 50 cents to every $1 paid to reduce principal through Dec. 31, 2020. This is a huge opportunity to pay off our mortgage. We are currently soliciting donations through our Mortgage Mania fundraiser or through general donations.”
In September, the HSO held a Putt for the Pool fundraiser at the Hillsboro Elks that raised $3,397.
Then there is Mortgage Mania, a donation-based fundraiser. It is a tri-fold board with pledge envelopes attached in increments of $5 up to $500.
“So far we have raised $1,190 in Mortgage Mania donations,” McKenzie said. “… All the donations from this will be directly applied to the NCB loan payoff opportunity… This opportunity to pay down our current mortgage is tremendous. Your tax-deductible donation will have an impact on so many who currently enjoy the pool, and those to come.”
McKenzie said the board will go to the Hillsboro Rotary meeting next week, HUBA’s Shop Small Saturday Business Tour on Nov. 28, and Hillsboro Masons and Highland District Hospital events. He said the names of the donors and the amount they donated will be visible on the board, and that next year it will be displayed at the pool.
A Casino Night fundraiser that will include blackjack and poker is being planned for January.
The current HSO board members, in addition to McKenzie, are M.D. Jeff Beery, vice president; Kathryn Hapner, secretary; Jeanine Bagshaw, treasurer; and board members Beth Florea, Chris Lewis and Ashley Marler.
The board is looking for volunteers for committees like facilities, social media, fundraising and membership drives. For more information email email@example.com or call 937-393-9959 ext. 122.
“The pool has been a great asset to Hillsboro and the surrounding communities since 1957,” McKenzie said. “We want to continue all the traditions and memories people have of it. But it’s going to take the community to keep it going, and we’ll do our best to make that happen.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.