As Worthington Pools officials prepared for the opening of their outdoor facility last year, they were concerned about its literal structures, which require regular upkeep.
But as the pools open for the season this year on Saturday, May 27, they are focused on modernizing and streamlining the outdated structure of the organization itself.
Leaders of Worthington Pools, via its parent company and local nonprofit organization Swiminc Inc., have been pushing since 2015 to update the 60-year-old facility at 400 W. Dublin-Granville Road. They have a $4.6 million plan that would add an all-seasons roof over the north pool along with other amenities, as well as renovate dilapidated portions of the pools and buildings.
But after hiring a consultant to assess the organization "from top to bottom," Rob Schmidt, president of the Worthington Pools board of directors, said officials now are "taking a good, hard look at how Swiminc is organized."
"We need to change some things to be in a better position to focus on raising money to have the development function built into Swiminc," he said. "Nonprofits have to raise money and they have to do it consistently.
"Swiminc is not really set up to do that. We're set up to run a pool. We're set up to teach kids how to swim."
Schmidt said a lack of planning was identified as a problem.
He said the organization wants to plan 10 or 15 years ahead rather than one or two.
"One of our big problems as an organization was a lack of focus on planning horizons that were not one season out or two seasons out," he said. "At some point, your plan becomes obsolete. That's just the nature of the beast. We need to start planning for that."
Although many of the improvements will come behind the scenes, manager Dan McCarthy said pool officials also are working on scheduling events that attract more customers or increase use at off-peak times.
An expanded event schedule includes movie nights, a triathlon and pancake breakfasts.
"We're hoping to bring more people through the gates with each event," he said.
McCarthy said the addition of a "pooch pond" for patrons to take their dogs is a direct result of surveys and requests from guests. He said pool officials are trying to implement what the community wants.
"Each year, we try to find a couple things in our surveys that hit pretty hard and then do what we can to accommodate those requests," he said.
In the meantime, major renovation plans appear to be a goal for the future.
Schmidt said physical changes this year are limited to "the things you would expect from year-by-year improvements."
And before anything monumental occurs, he said, he has learned he needs to get a better feel for the community's desires by "spending a lot of time with our members" over the next year, "especially if I need to ask them for several million dollars."
"Honestly, it's 2017," Schmidt said. "We need to make sure we're doing what the members want us to do. So as we build the organization's capacity to raise money, we also need to engage our customers -- our benefactors -- in conversations about what we should be doing. All that has to be done within the context of the day-to-day operational concerns we have."
For more information, visit worthingtonpools.com.