WESTMINSTER — Three years ago, the city fathers weren't wild about the idea of getting into the business of swimming pool management.
The liability issues alone could be enough to send civic leaders into a furious backstroke -- not to mention the colossal maintenance burden.
However, the city's pool, in the Greens subdivision, has been a pleasant surprise for the once-trepid city administrators.
"There was some reservation at first," said Carol Donovan, city supervisor ofrecreation and activities, who oversees the pool operation.
"But from all reports, they (council members) are pleased, and the public has been responsive. It's been a positive."
And when swimmers arrive at the pool this season, the fourth year the city has run the facility, they'll find a few surprises themselves, Donovan said.
Using$20,000 in state grants, the city built a concession stand, a pavilion and a tot lot. The work is expected to be completed this week.
The seven-lane Olympic-sized pool was built as part the Greens, and originally owned and managed by the developer, before the city took itover in 1988.
There's one significant reason the 166,000-gallon pool brings a smile to the face of city administrators -- money.
The pool actually turns a profit, said Donovan. The city made a tidy $7,000 last year and has made as much as $12,000 in previous years.
That's something of a feat for a municipality-owned pool in Carroll.
By comparison, Hampstead lost about $5,000 running its pool last year, the fourth year the town has operated the facility, said Hampstead Manager John A. Riley.
And Taneytown administrators viewed losing $1,000 on their pool operation last year a success of sorts, afterlosing $15,000 in 1989.
Westminster benefits in part because its pool is fairly new and less burdensome to maintain. Taneytown's pool is 26 years old.
But beyond that, Donovan credits the facility's staff and the range of programs offered as prominent factors in the pool's success.
"We've got good management, and it's properly staffed," she said of her lifeguards, swimming instructors and concessions staffers.
The pool offers swimming lessons for children, water aerobics classes for adults, and special events -- such as teen dances and adult luaus -- for members.
There's also a swim team -- for youngsters 6 to 18 -- that competes in the Central Maryland Swim League.
This spring, Donovan's staff is working to increase membership for the coming season. In 1990, the pool had about 700 members, Donovansaid, including some 180 family memberships. The city is gunning to raise membership to 200 families.
Memberships are open to anyone in Carroll, Donovan said. Family memberships are $125 a year for city residents, $175 for county residents. Individual memberships go for $60 and $85, respectively. Non-members can use the pool on a pay-per-day basis.
The pool opens on Memorial Day weekend, and will be openweekends only until June 14, when schools adjourn for the summer. After that, the pool will be open seven days a week.