By Hilary Corrigan

Triplicate staff writer

With the name Save Our Pool and the slogan, andquot;Don't let us drown,andquot; a group of about 50 local residents, senior citizens and parents met this week to plan fundraisers meant to help renovate Fred Endert Municipal Swimming Pool.

The 41-year-old, city-run facility needs $1.1 million in renovations, pool manager Matt Hildebrandt said.

andquot;This is the community's chance to show how much they support the pool,andquot; Hildebrandt said. andquot;If we don't renovate, I believe the pool will close within five years.andquot;

The project already has secured a $300,500 state parks grant, along with $38,000 from the city and a $116,000 private donation. The grant's conditions require that the renovation project finish by June 2009, and Hildebrandt plans to seek a city loan to speed the effort.

A four-month renovation project would replace the pool and pipes, install a new heating system and boiler, add a party room for pool rental events and revamp locker rooms so that they meet Americans with Disabilities Act rules.

A new heating system would cut the annual $88,000 in heating costs just about in half.

The city pays more than $200,000 each year to run the pool that also operates on about $110,000 it makes in annual fees.

The facility includes the 25-yard-long, 14-yard-wide pool, waterslide, specatator area, locker rooms and offices.

Save Our Pool aims to host a dessert with silent and live auctions in May at the Cultural Center, with a goal of netting $100,000.

About 4,000 people each month use the pool, including adults who complete laps and children, age 6 months to 17 years, who join swimming lessons. The facility employs two full-time and 15 part-time workers.

andquot;We have many senior citizens who come and use the pool because it keeps them mobile,andquot; Hildebrandt said. andquot;I get story after story that if they didn't have the pool to go to, they'd be in a wheelchair or using a walker.andquot;

City resident and retiree Bob Sankus visits the pool up to five times each week usually in the afternoon, before groups of school children arrive.

Sankus finds that swimming provides the best exercise after his two knee replacements and a hip replacement. He prefers the water resistence to the more strenuous weight training that he occassionally performs at the gym.

andquot;I don't want to see it closed,andquot; Sankus said of the pool, noting the big facility unique for a small city. andquot;People don't realize how lucky they are to have a pool this size.andquot;

Reach Hilary Corrigan at