When the Kendrick Park pool celebrates its 80th birthday in 2017, it will be in dire need of a makeover.

When Associated Pool Builders (North Dakota) inspected the pool in 2012, they gave the pool another five years of life expectancy. Now, as doomsday quickly approaches, the city of Sheridan finds itself in a bind. What’s next for the historic pool?

The story may be less about the impending renovations to the pool and rather the history that led to those fixes. The fact that the pool is approaching the big eight-o justifies the pool’s significance to the city.

Before the pool, though, came the plot of land where that cement pond now sits. According to Sheridan Recreation District Executive Director Richard Wright, Kendrick Park dates back to the late 1800s. Over 100 years later, Sheridan has grown, changed, evolved and improved.

Kendrick Park has been there through it all.

There have been some changes along the way, sure. After all, the park was home to a zoo in the middle of the 20th century. There were bears, ostrich, coyotes and handfuls of other animals. Eventually, though, the cost to run the zoo, along with some irritation from the public, meant its demise. Many residents didn’t like seeing the animals locked up in small cages.

But the end of the zoo didn’t mean an end to the park. Kendrick Park, less than a mile from Sheridan’s Main Street, provides a wealth of activities for its visitors.

Almost as old as the park itself, Kendrick Pool has been passed down and maintained by a number of people over its 78-year lifespan.

Kendrick Pool was built in 1937 by Evelyn and Edward Moore, who presented the pool to the city of Sheridan. Much as it is today, the pool was used as a service to the community rather than a way to make money. The city funded the utilities and the chemicals, but the Kiwanis Club managed the pool. That meant they staffed and maintained the pool throughout the years.

Eventually, as the Kiwanis Club diminished in size and revenue, the city assigned the Sheridan Recreation District the responsibility of running the pool. The organization has been doing that since the mid-1980s.

The pool offers swim lessons, private parties and regular old swimming fun from the first of June to the end of August. The pool sees more than 20,000 swimmers each summer.

There’s also Concerts in the Park.

Every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in July and August, Kendrick Park hosts a free concert at the bandshell in the park. Bands from all around the country come in to play for Sheridan residents and tourists.

Wright said each concert draws between 700 and 900 spectators.

There are tennis courts, a recently renovated playground, walking paths and of course the Kendrick Park ice cream stand, one of the summer’s most popular stops in Sheridan.

So, while murmurs of a new pool or even moving the pool out of the park completely continue, and that 2017 date approaches, it’s important to Wright that people understand how all of the park’s attractions work together to make Kendrick so special.

“With the bandshell there and the ice cream stand there, I think they all work together in the same light,” Wright said. “Wherever you move the pool, you’re going to have to have those things. If that pool shuts down, I think you’d hear an outcry of people, like, ‘What do we do now?’”

The pool is one piece of the larger puzzle that is Kendrick Park, a park that has been a place of recreation for the Sheridan community for more than 100 years.

By Mike Pruden