© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
TECHNOTE: WKAR broadcast signals will be off-air or low power during tower maintenance

Plans To Renovate Historic Moores Park Pool In Lansing Move Forward

Moores Park Pool with Eckert Power Plant in the background
Mary McGuire
The Moores Park Pool overlooks the Grand River and the Lansing Board of Water and Light's Eckert Power Plant.

The Moores Park Pool has been a summer staple in Lansing for almost 100 years.

It has fallen into some disrepair in recent years, but now, work is being done to create a plan to preserve and revive it.

The pool is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designed by Lansing city engineer, Wesley Bintz.

Dale Schrader is on the executive committee for the group, Friends of Moores Park Pool and is the president of Preservation Lansing. WKAR’s Sophia Saliby spoke with him about what’s next for the pool.

Interview Highlights

On Why The Pool Should Be Preserved

It'll celebrate its 100th year anniversary next year, and Wesley Bintz was a Lansing city resident [and] city engineer. He went on to start his own company and built over 130 of these pools, these above ground signature pools around the country. And there's only a handful of them left, and Moores Park Pool is the oldest surviving Wesley Bintz swimming pool in the United States.

On The Two Options For Renovations From A Recent Assessment

The first one was SHPO, which is the State Historic Preservation Office, approved, which is the more historic one. And they had a range of costs from somewhere from $2.7 million to $4.8 million for that. The other one was a health department [one] and is $6.3 million. The assessment doesn't go into it a lot of detail about that, but basically that's building another pool within this pool. It kind of alters the appearance of it. It takes a couple feet off of the whole diameter of the pool. And that actually costs more, so we definitely prefer the first one.

On What Memories He Has Of The Pool

The pool is actually wonderful. It's oval-shaped. It's tucked into a hillside, and there's some bleachers going up the side of the hill. You can imagine parents sitting there watching their children, and it looks over the pool and in the background of the pool is the Grand River and the three iconic smokestacks of Eckert Power Plant with trees surrounding the pool. It's just an amazing sight. I've never actually swam in it, but if we get this done, [you] better believe I'll be swimming in it.

Interview Transcript

Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR. I’m Sophia Saliby.

The Moores Park Pool has been a summer staple in Lansing for almost 100 years. The pool is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designed by Lansing city engineer, Wesley Bintz.

It has fallen into some disrepair in recent years, but now, work is being done to create a plan to preserve and revive it.

Dale Schrader is on the executive committee for the group, Friends of Moores Park Pool. He joins me now. Thank you for being here.

Dale Schrader: Thanks, Sophia.

Saliby: Can you explain a little more why this pool is significant and why it needs to be preserved?

Schrader: Well, like you said, it's been 100 years. It'll celebrate its 100th year anniversary next year, and Wesley Bintz was a Lansing city resident [and] city engineer.

Historic photo of Moores Park Pool
Credit Historical Society of Greater Lansing
The Moores Park Pool is the oldest remaining pool designed by Lansing city engineer, Wesley Bintz.

He went on to start his own company and built over 130 of these pools, these above ground signature pools around the country. And there's only a handful of them left, and Moores Park Pool is the oldest surviving Wesley Bintz swimming pool in the United States.

Saliby: There was a recent assessment on the best ways to renovate the pool and the pool structure, everything around it. And there were basically two options at the end of it.

One that preserves more of those historical elements of this pool and does some work to bring things up to code and another that is more focused on fully renovating the pool. Does your group have a preference?

Schrader: The two assessments came in the first one was SHPO, which is the State Historic Preservation Office, approved, which is the more historic one. And they had a range of costs from somewhere from $2.7 million to $4.8 million for that.

The other one was a health department [one] and is $6.3 million. The assessment doesn't go into it a lot of detail about that, but basically that's building another pool within this pool. It kind of alters the appearance of it. It takes a couple feet off of the whole diameter of the pool. And that actually costs more, so we definitely prefer the first one.

Saliby: That first option also has a shorter timeline for how long the pool can last before there's more renovations [or] repairs needed. I think it's about a 20-year time span from when those go into place. Is there a worry that it's going to be hard to keep this thing alive and keep this thing going for Lansing residents?

Schrader: Well, if you can keep it going for another 20 years, yes, someone else will have to come up with another fundraiser and another, perhaps [way to] raise money to keep it going. But it's one of the most historic structures in the city of Lansing, and it has a lot of importance to the city.

Saliby: As you mentioned, the cost for either of these plans is pretty significant, at least a few million dollars. Is there a plan to pay for those repairs?

Schrader: We actually raised half the assessment amount. We pledged that we would pay $30,000 which is half of the assessment, and we raised well over $30,000 in that time. We had to 200-300 donors.

Mark Rodman from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network has been helpful. They've helped us get a National Trust Historic grant from Washington D.C. for $5,000 that helped. And so we surpassed our goal. And we're going to be able to have money going into the next phase which is when we really need to get some money.

Saliby: And I should say your group is working with the city of Lansing to do these renovations [and] fundraise for this money [and] grants. Is that correct?

Schrader: Most definitely. We're working with the city of Lansing. It's a city of Lansing property. Times are tough, you know, and it's tough also with COVID. Because we can't organize in large groups, and typical fundraisers, you can get a group and have events and things like that. And we haven't been able to do any of that. But we still managed to raise upwards of $40,000 in a couple months. I think the interest is there. We haven't even started tapping the corporate donors and things like that.

Saliby: So, what are the next steps now, and is there a goal date to get these repairs done?

Schrader: That's the question. What do we do now? We did find out that it's going to take the architect probably four to six months to put out bids and plans and specs and everything. So, it looks like it might slip into next year because we'd have to have a window of 2021, March through, you know, to try to get this pool fixed up and that's a pretty quick turnaround for us to try to raise the kind of money we're gonna need. So, it may slip a year. I understand there's no problem with the pool, structurally or piping or anything like that sitting for another year. It's all being discussed right now.

picture of Moores Park Pool from the bleachers at sunset
Credit Mary McGuire
The pool is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Saliby: I've never been to the Moores Park Pool. Do you have any great memories of the summers there with family [or] with friends?

Schrader: You know, I've only lived in Lansing about 20 years myself, and I'm a big fan of historic buildings though. There's the bleachers. The pool is actually wonderful. It's oval-shaped. It's tucked into a hillside, and there's some bleachers going up the side of the hill.

You can imagine parents sitting there watching their children, and it looks over the pool and in the background of the pool is the Grand River and the three iconic smokestacks of Eckert Power Plant with trees surrounding the pool. It's just an amazing sight. I've never actually swam in it, but if we get this done, [you] better believe I'll be swimming in it.

Saliby: Dale Schrader is on the executive committee for the group, Friends of Moores Park Pool. Thank you for joining me.

Schrader: Thank you very much.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
Related Content
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!