As temperatures soar into the triple digits, Chester Hills, Evergreen and Ridgeview community pool members find life is better at the pool.
“I’ve been swimming a 1,000 times maybe,” laughs 6-year old Madison Martin, who is a member of the Chester Hills pool.
The Martins joined Chester Hills four years ago. According to Madison’s mom, Stephanie, her daughter takes full advantage of the pool, swimming two to three times a day.
“We’ve enjoyed being at the pool,” said Stephanie Martin. “It’s a great family activity.”
Originally each pool was built for its neighboring community, and restricted membership to area residents. Today, members from outside the neighborhood are crucial to each pools survival.
Owned and operated by membership associations, Chester Hills and Evergreen are open to anyone willing to pay the annual dues and maintain the bylaws.
Ridgeview pool restricts membership to the Ponderosa area. Each member becomes an owner of the pool by purchasing a portion of the property, instead of paying dues to an association.
Cooling off from the summer heat is only one advantage to joining a community pool. Over the course of each summer, long-lasting friendships develop between members.
“It’s my sisterhood here,” said Chester Hills board member Tess Clowe, who swims during the adult time. “Lots of girl time; then we go about our busy lives refreshed.”
The sense of community is far reaching. Adults who swam at the pool as kids join to give their children the same experience.
“I remember riding my bike to the pool and spending the afternoon swimming.” said South Hill resident Kitty Hennessey, who joined Chester Hills eight years ago for her three children.
“There is a real sense of community here,” said Clowe. “I love this because it doesn’t matter where you live. If you want to be a part of the Chester Hills family, you can do that.”
Laine Anderson, a sophomore at the University of Washington, grew up at the pool and now spends her summers as a lifeguard at Chester Hills.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere,” said Anderson. “It’s a great part-time job.”
Rose Hulvey, a member of Evergreen pool since 2005, loves taking her 5-year old to the pool.
“It’s easier to watch your children,” Hulvey said. “It’s almost like having a pool in your backyard without the expense.”
“The community loves it,” said Randy Burns, Evergreen Pool Association president. “It’s very family oriented.”
Of the three, Chester Hills is the only pool that offers swim lessons and posts a lifeguard on duty all hours the pool is open.
“Our mission is the children,” said Doug Anderson, Chester Hills facilities director. “We’ve created a good environment for the youth in our community.”
Chester Hills was built in 1957. Jack Pring Sr. and Frank Reed purchased the Chester Hills area to develop it as a community neighborhood. Jack Pring Jr. remembers his father giving the land over to the Chester Hills Association in the late 1950s.
“The pool was a great gathering place for the area,” Pring said. “It was real special. I still have so many friends from that.”
Evergreen pool, also built in 1957, is part of the planned Lemen Airpark Development, designed by Loren Lemen. His master plan included a housing development built around an airstrip. The development design featured a community park with the pool and a plane in every garage.
The Ridgeview pool, built in 1974, originally restricted membership to residents living on Ridgeview Drive. As maintenance costs increased, membership was open to the entire Ponderosa area.
Jan Monroe, a member since 1978, and the only remaining Ridgeview resident, said the shelter currently being used for a covered picnic area was one of the smaller pavilions from Expo ‘74.
“For the first 25 years, we had a large Native American Display on one of our walls from Expo,” said Monroe. “It finally weathered away.”
Membership costs vary at each pool. Chester Hills initiation fee is $400, which can be paid over four years. The annual dues are $165 with an annual maintenance fee of $35. If members volunteer time to clean up around the pool, the board refunds the $35 fee. The membership, currently at 96, is limited to 130 families.
“We started the summer with 76,” said Clowe. “Our numbers are coming up.”
Evergreen’s annual dues for outside members are $165 per household with $15 per additional swimmer. The pool currently has 55 households.
Ridgeview restricts its membership to 18 families. Each member’s assessed property value is $3,300. However, members can sell their ownership at any price. Membership prices have varied from $1,500 to $4,000. Ponderosa residents can buy into the pool only if a current member is selling their share. Ridgeview members also pay a $500 annual fee to cover maintenance of the pool.
“The fellowship you develop with the people at the pool is wonderful,” said longtime Chester Hills member Diane Schneider. “It’s a nice safe place to be.”