LIMA — When Donna Tremmel was a child back in the late ’80s, she would spend her days at Sherwood Park’s community pool.
“The neighborhood kids would get up first in the morning and ride bikes down to the pool. We would be there everyday,” Tremmel said. “Growing up, that’s where everybody was at.”
Three decades later, the source of her childhood memories, Sherwood Park Community Club, is on brink of shutting down.
Located in a small suburban neighborhood tucked away between UNOH and Cable Road, the pool and its associated community club was first built to help attract people to the Sherwood Park development back when it was built in the early ’60s by housing developer Ben Cogen.
Donny Gallagher, 72, recalled its glory days. Back when members were easier to come by, he recalled the swarms of families in the neighborhoods heading to the pool on any given summer day. On some nights, the adults would hold their own parties in the main building after 8 p.m., kicking out the kids to hold Hawaiian-themed parties and casino nights that brought the neighborhood together.
“The big highlight was swimming at the pool. They had swimming lessons. They learned how to swim. Parties. We had a casino night one time,” Gallagher said. “We had a ball. We had liquor. We had enough people that belonged to the pool that knew this, that knew that.”
As the neighborhood began to get older, however, those days started to steadily change. The children who frequented the pool became adults, and many moved out of the neighborhood. Families became less common. The adults who organized casino nights got older and tamer.
And over the years, more and more people got less and less interested. Membership dropped accordingly as neighborhood interest waned. Community Club Board President John Reif said he’s walked the neighborhood a few times knocking on doors and trying to sign up new members, but he said that’s it’s been an uphill battle to try to increase interest, especially from people without kids or who may be too old to consistently head to the pool.
“I mean, the neighborhood has to want it,” Reif said. “That’s the first step. So we have to get neighborhood involvement and that’s been our biggest obstacle.”
Outside of the Sherwood neighborhood, pool management has tried to pull in outside members to keep the pool going with at least some success, but that has come with its own set of challenges.
Part of the problem is that a lot of people just don’t know about the Sherwood Park Community Club and its pool due to its location tucked away from sight off of Cable Road. Another is just the general trends of the times. Families are just busier than they used to be, and heading to the neighborhood pool now has to compete with millions of other entertainment options now available at any given time.
“People just have other stuff to do besides go to the pool where as before, people would come here for dinner and hang out in the evenings,” Reif said.
Changes in housing trends have also kept families from moving into the neighborhood. Houses are now expected to be bigger than what was built in the 1960s, and most new construction is now concentrated outside the city to appease the trends.
The pandemic didn’t help either. This past year, Rief said they’ve had to keep the pool closed, and now, the big question is if people still want to keep it open. Reif said he and other board members have tried to get the word out, but they don’t have a budget to do any concentrated campaigns. Outside of a sign set up on Cable Road, they’ve jumped onto social media to send out information on what the pool could be if they can rally the interest.
“I mean, in the summertime, when it’s a hot day, and the place is packed, I mean it just has a different vibe back here. The kids are running around, you know, there’s like an energetic buzz,” Reif said.
“That’s what we need. Young people, young families,” Gallagher said.
Without them or any additional support, it’ll be a matter of months before the organization is dissolved completely.
“When we were kids, everyone would be up and ready by 11 a.m. Or noon, and we would be there all day until 7 or 8 p.m.,” Tremmel said with a sense of nostalgia. “Our parents would always get annoyed, they’d have to come and drag us from the pool so we would eat dinner.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.