2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Couple hopes new owner will be lifesaver for Village Seven pool

Published: March 21, 2014, 8:00 am, by Bill Vogrin
Jacque Thurman stands in front of the Village 7 Swim Club pool on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. She and her husband, Mike Thurman, bought the pool in 2012 but have not had the money to open it. So they are trying to sell it. The pool was built in 1970 by developer Omer "Bud" Shepard to promote his Village Seven subdivision at Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academ;y Boulevard. It was managed eight years by Rose Rook who then bought it in 1978 and operated it until 2012 when she sold it to the Thurmans. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

Jacque Thurman stands in front of the Village 7 Swim Club pool on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. She and her husband, Mike Thurman, bought the pool in 2012 but have not had the money to open it. So they are trying to sell it. The pool was built in 1970 by developer Omer “Bud” Shepard to promote his Village Seven subdivision at Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard. It was managed eight years by Rose Rook who then bought it in 1978 and operated it until 2012 when she sold it to the Thurmans. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

It’s a bit of a fixer-upper. But with nearly an acre in the middle of Colorado Springs, it’s got a great location. And there’s plenty of parking and room for entertaining.

And when it’s spruced up, I predict it will be one of the most popular places in the neighborhood.

For sale: the Village 7 Swim Club on Nonchalant Circle South.

That’s right, the neighborhood pool is for sale, listed on Facebook and craigslist websites for $149,000.

What a rare opportunity for a family-run, neighborhood business.

The secluded entrance to the Village 7 Swim Club on Nonchalant Circle South. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The secluded entrance to the Village 7 Swim Club on Nonchalant Circle South. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

That’s exactly what Jacque and Mike Thurman thought when they bought it in December 2012 from longtime owner Rose Rook.

“We used to run a pool in Pennsylvania,” Mike told me. “That’s why we were attracted to this.”

But once they started looking hard at the pool, they realized they’d taken on too expensive a project.

“We just couldn’t make the numbers work,” he said.

I could see the disappointment in his face as he showed me around the grounds.

Although he and Jacque never swam at the Village 7 Swim Club, they spent many summers at pools in their native Pennsylvania. They came here in 1998 to work at Focus on the Family. Today, he owns a diagnostic lab for sleep disorders.

Jacque said “unanticipated life changes and financial changes” forced the couple to abandon their pool dream.

“We caught a vision of a family-owned pool our own kids could help us run in the summers,” Jacque said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to teach our kids about hard work, ownership and businesses.”

But they started adding up the cost of changes they wanted to make, like an estimated $50,000 for a new liner, and realized they couldn’t afford it.

“I know somebody would like to see this pool come back to life,” she said.

The trick is finding that person who shares their dream and will step in and reopen the place. It had been a summer hot spot since it opened Memorial Day 1970 to serve the 850 or so homes in Village Seven, a 1,500-acre neighborhood near Academy Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway famed for its streets with whimsical names and miles of walking paths.

Rose Rook coached the Village 7 Swim Team in Colorado Springs for 42 years until she retired in 2012 at age 84. She is seen in a June 15, 2007, Gazette file photo.

Rose Rook coached the Village 7 Swim Team for 42 years until she retired in 2012 at age 84. She is seen in a June 15, 2007, Gazette file photo.

When it opened, the pool was managed by Rose Rook, a native of Germany who married a U.S. soldier, Art Rook, who was then stationed at Fort Carson until his retirement.

“We moved here in 1966,” Rose said. “In 1970 we bought a house in Village Seven and I was hired to manage it (the pool).”

Then, in 1978, Village Seven developer Omer “Bud” Shepard asked Rook if she wanted to own the pool.

Omer "Bud" Shepard in an undated file photo.

Omer “Bud” Shepard in an undated file photo.

“He said: ‘We don’t know anything about pools. Why don’t you just buy it from us?’ ” Rose said. “So we did.”

They ran it as a private swim club, building a membership base of about 300 with a swim team that competed for years. She also gave lessons every summer, teaching thousands of children to swim over four decades.

The pool struggled at times as the neighborhood changed.

“Village Seven just didn’t have many kids anymore,” Rose said. “To sell out our memberships, we opened it to the whole city.”

By 2012, Rose was no longer able to handle the daily operations.

Rose Rook holds a water noodle during practice of the Village 7 Swim Team in this June 15, 2007, Gazette file photo. Rook coached the team 42 years until she retired in 2012.

Rose Rook holds a water noodle during practice of the Village 7 Swim Team in this June 15, 2007, Gazette file photo. Rook coached the team 42 years until she retired in 2012.

“I was very ill,” said Rose, 85. “I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

And though she sold it to the Thurmans, Rose hasn’t been able to completely let go of it.

For example, as the pool sat vacant, she became concerned neighbors would blame her for its appearance, with its dying grass and weeds everywhere.

“It looks awful,” Rose said. “It never looked like that when I owned it. Even in the winter. I am very frustrated. I told them I’d come down and help them even though I can barely walk.”

The basketball / volleyball courts at the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The basketball / volleyball courts at the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

She knows it’s important a new owner is found before things deteriorate too much.

“People came back year after year,” Rose said. “It was a fun place.”

Her memory was echoed by her daughter, Mary Jones, who became an avid swimmer like her mother and a prominent swimming coach in the area.

“Our whole family swam there,” Mary said, fondly recalling her time there and her mother’s dedication. “She coached swimming until she was 84. We all spent our summers there and my kids grew up at the pool.”

People from across Colorado Springs visited the pool, Mary said.

The popular Shack Shack at the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The popular Shack Shack at the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

“It was a wonderful family place,” she said. “If you asked me to pick one good memory, I couldn’t. There were just so many good memories.

“There just aren’t places like that anymore.”

Like her mother, Mary hopes the pool is reopened soon. After all, she wants her own granddaughter to swim there.

Hopefully, the Thurmans say, they can find a buyer and get the pool reopened this summer.

That hope is shared by neighbors including Matt Blanski, whose home backs up to the pool, which sits secluded among mature trees shading its basketball/volleyball court, playground and picnic areas.

“I’m sure the whole neighborhood would use it,” Matt said. “When it first closed, people were talking about it. It would be nice to have it open again.”

The playground and picnic area of the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The playground and picnic area of the Village 7 Swim Club. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette