SUSQUEHANNA TWP., Pa. -- Wedgewood Hills Swim Club in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County is finally open after being closed for three years. It might have to close again though in a matter of weeks.
The pool initially closed in 2012, needing to undergo a litany of repairs. During that time, the club lost countless memberships. This season, the swim club reopened. Its pool is filled with blue water, the snack bar is serving hot dogs, and the water slide is ready for bodies. Except currently, there is no one sliding, no one eating, and no one swimming.
Wedgewood Hills Swim Club has lost nearly all of its members.
Rich Bluis, treasurer of the swim club, said it currently has 30 family memberships. In order to break even, Bluis estimates the club needs $50,000, or around 200 more members.
"It’s dire," Bluis said. "We need membership and we need it bad."
The swim club shut down temporarily in June 2012 after its pump caught fire. Later, workers realized the pool's drain line needed replaced. With the swim club closed, club workers renovated the baby pool and clubhouse.
Wedgewood Hills Swim Club was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Dauphin County gaming control board, money which Bluis said has been used up for repairs.
"A lot of folks were sad in the township," she said. "I would run into people who would ask, ‘When is the pool going to open.’
"I don’t know if they joined other pools or if families aren’t joining community pools anymore."
In order to save money, Fonner said lifeguards and pool workers, normally paid employees, are currently volunteering. Two of the lifeguards are her sons, who say the swim club has been part of their lives since childhood.
"It’s the right thing to do," Nick Fonner said of working for free. "There's not a lot of pools left, a lot are closing. I’d hate to see another good thing close.”
Bluis said the lack of membership isn't due to a lack of trying. The swim club has advertised in the Susquehanna Township newsletter and have posted signs on nearby streets. They also run an active Facebook page and website.
"We're doing everything we can do," Bluis said. "We put the pool back in the community. Now we need the community back in the pool."
Family rates for the 2015 season cost $250 for families, $225 for couples, $150 for singles, $100 for senior citizens (62 years old and above), and $175 for senior couples. Bluis said these are "Welcome-Back Rates"; they were higher in 2011.
Time is not on the swim club's side. Bills are piling up and Fonner says she won't be able to keep her workers as volunteers much longer.
"We want to see how this weekend went and then sit down and talk about what's next," she said. When asked what would happen if the swim club didn't make a sizable membership gain, she added, "Unfortunately, we will not be able to open."