Columbia Council leans toward pool Kendall Ridge gets tentative OK

February 19, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

The Columbia Council last night reversed its earlier position on a pool for the neighborhood of Kendall Ridge and voted to include $75,000 in planning money for the facility in next year's proposed capital budget.

The council's vote, 6-1 with two abstentions, is not binding since it was taken during a work session on the $10.1 million capital plan.

But the strength of the vote suggests the money will be approved when the council formally votes March 1 on the spending plan.

During a meeting in November, the council voted against putting planning money for the Kendall Ridge pool in the fiscal 1993-1994 budget that takes effect May 1.

At that time, council members opposed a pool for Kendall Ridge hTC because some of Columbia's existing 21 pools lose money annually and because there are three other neighborhood pools in the Village of Long Reach, where Kendall Ridge is located.

But last night, the council was swayed by arguments from council member Gail Bailey, who represents Kendall Ridge, and other council members who argued that the neighborhood deserves a pool.

Council member Norma Rose was among those who reversed her position on the pool.

"I voted against planning funds in November mostly because I thought we should be reducing our financial obligations," she said. "But now I understand much better the needs of Long Reach and it does seem to me [Kendall Ridge] is short on recreational facilities."

Council member Karen Keucker, who voted against adding planning funds for the pool into the capital budget, said she has obtained statistics on patronage of the outdoor pools from the Columbia Association, which manages the city's facilities.

She argued that the figures show that building another outdoor pool would be an "unwise financial investment."

"The numbers just aren't there to support a . . . pool in Kendall Ridge," she said. "A new pool would drain membership from the other pools in East Columbia."

Kendall Ridge residents have lobbied the council for months to include the planning money in the proposed budget.

Residents argued that they weren't getting their money's worth from their Columbia property lien payments since the neighborhood lacks a pool, and that developers used the promise of a pool as a marketing tool to lure buyers to the neighborhood.

Some residents have been upset that Kendall Ridge was passed up while planning money for a pool for Columbia's newest village, River Hill, was included in the proposed budget.

After almost two hours of discussion, the council had made few other changes to the proposed capital plan.

The council decided to defer spending about $100,000 proposed for improvements to Columbia's indoor ice rink and deleted a proposal for $3,000 for new carpeting for the Columbia %o Association's Membership Services Center.

Ms. Rose had argued against the expenditures, saying they weren't needed for safety reasons or to provide a basic amenity for residents.

The council decided that the ice rink proposal needed more study. The council then voted to include the money in the proposed budget, but to delay spending it until association staff can provide the council with a lower-cost renovation plan for comparison.

Late last night, the council had not addressed the proposed $3 million for open-space improvements or the setting of new membership rates for Columbia's recreation facilities.

Early in the meeting, the council decided to hold another work session on the budget at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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