2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Colorado Springs woman rescues community swimming pool

Published: June 11, 2014, 8:00 am, by Bill Vogrin

Village Seven LogoWhen Jacque Thurman couldn’t find anyone to throw a lifeline to the Village 7 Swim Club, she decided to rescue it herself.

Now, after two years being closed and weeks of intense rehabbing, the pool is scheduled to open June 21.

Based on conversations at a nearby Mountain Grounds Coffee House, neighbors are eagerly anticipating its return.

“Ever since we opened last August, people have been asking about the pool,” said Melinda Haggerton, who owns Mountain Grounds with her husband, Mason.

“People ask all the time. I think it’s going to be great for this community.”

Jacque Thurman stands in the pool of the Village 7 Swim Club with her son, Ty Thurman, 11, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The pool, which opened in 1970, closed at the end of the summer in 2011. Thurman bought pool and hopes to have it open June 21.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Jacque Thurman stands in the pool of the Village 7 Swim Club with her son, Ty Thurman, 11, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The pool, which opened in 1970, closed at the end of the summer in 2011. Thurman bought pool and hopes to have it open June 21. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

And that’s why Thurman changed her mind about the future of the pool and decided in May to revive it.

I wrote about the pool in March after seeing it advertised for sale online by Jacque and her husband, Mike Thurman. They had bought the pool in December 2012 from owner Rose Rook, who was its original manager when it opened in 1970.

But the Thurmans never opened the pool and listed it for sale this spring when their personal circumstances changed and they no longer thought it was a feasible project.

It needed significant help.

In the two years it was closed, vandals smashed most of the windows and broke glass throughout the lockers and sauna. Thieves stripped the copper from the pump room and stole the pool pump.

Losers sprayed graffiti on the fence and even tossed the “Snack Shack” cash register in the muddy water at the bottom of the Z-shaped pool. The damage totaled tens of thousands of dollars.

Jacque Thurman takes a break from the clean up at the Village 7 Swim Club Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The pool, which opened in 1970, closed at the end of the summer in 2011. Thurman bought pool and hopes to have it open June 21.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Jacque Thurman takes a break from the clean up at the Village 7 Swim Club Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The pool, which opened in 1970, closed at the end of the summer in 2011. Thurman bought pool and hopes to have it open June 21. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

It was a pretty depressing sight when I visited in March. Weeds and tall grass choked its basketball andvolleyball court, playground and picnic areas.

Besides the register, other trash floated in the ugly water.

Frankly, it was hard to imagine children splashing in the shallow end or jumping off the diving board or laughing as they zipped down the water slide.

It was a cold, windy day and the lifeguard tower sat like a forlorn sentry guarding over the end of an era.

That’s not the way it looks in photos since the pool opened as an amenity to lure folks to Village Seven, a new 1,500-acre neighborhood with 850 homes near Academy Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

For 42 years it was the heart of the community each summer.

The basketball / volleyball courts at the Village 7 Swim Club were choked with tumbleweeds and grass in March 2014. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The basketball / volleyball courts at the Village 7 Swim Club were choked with tumbleweeds and grass in March 2014. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

Families spent their summers at the pool. Rook taught thousands of children to swim and gave hundreds of teens their first jobs in the Snack Shack. Families had reunions and picnics there. They played volleyball and basketball.

And that’s why Jacque decided to try to save the pool.

“It’s more than a pool,” she said. “It’s about the community. It’s about the generations of families that have come over the years. It’s where they made memories.”

In recent weeks she’s been spending all her free time at the pool, when she’s not working fulltime at Hope and Home, a child placement agency.

“We’ve been painting and cleaning and doing the lawn and everything,” she said.

The popular Shack Shack at the Village 7 Swim Club in March 2014. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

The popular Shack Shack at the Village 7 Swim Club in March 2014. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette

She has scaled back some of the couple’s original plans for the pool. There will be no $50,000 liner replacement. Other enhancements also are on hold. The pool pump cost $8,000 to replace and the stolen copper was $3,000. Cleaning and patching the pool will cost $4,000.

“It will be new and improved but I’m not doing those renovations,” she said. “But there will be new paint and a new security system and new landscaping. It will be better than ever.”

I wondered how she’d juggle a fulltime job and a pool, with all the demands for maintenance and lifeguards and security and all.

The Village 7 Swim Club on Nonchalant Circle South as seen from FlashEarth.com

The Village 7 Swim Club on Nonchalant Circle South as seen from FlashEarth.com

She solved that problem by hiring a company to hire and train her staff, offer swim lessons and maintain the property.

“Basically, I’m outsourcing the pool management piece to USA Pools,” she said.

Since the pool is opening later than the normal Memorial Day kickoff, Jacque is offering discounted family memberships of $275 for the season, ending Labor Day weekend. (You can find details on the pool’s Facebook page ).

When Rose Rooks owned it, she typically had about 300 family members who paid $425 per season. I’m guessing Thurman won’t have much trouble selling out at the discounted rate, especially given what Haggerton is hearing at her coffee house.

“When I heard it was reopening, I wanted to hug Jacque,” Haggerton said. “I’m so excited. Customers are excited. I think it’s going to be great for the community.”

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  March 18, 2014. She and her husband, Mike Thurman, bought the pool in 2012 but did not open it in 2013. After trying to sell it, Jacque decided to open it June 21. Bill Vogrin / The Gazette