Columbia Council backs pool for Kendall Ridge

February 18, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

As the melted ice began to re-freeze in the evening chill last night, it was time to talk about swimming pools.

Preferably solar-heated ones.

Columbia Council members wrestled with what has become a perennial philosophical question: Are 21 neighborhood pools enough?

For member Mike Rethman, whose Hickory Ridge village has the city's newest and best-attended pools, the answer is a resounding "yes!"

Roy T. Lyons, whose Long Reach village has been battling for a fourth pool for five years, has a different view.

Mr. Lyons prevailed last night, winning a straw vote called by Mr. Rethman to determine whether there was enough support to remove nearly $1 million from the Columbia Association's proposed capital budget.

Five of the 10 council members indicated they supported a new pool for the Kendall Ridge neighborhood in Long Reach. Six were needed to defeat it.

"I hope this can end the battle for a Kendall Ridge pool," Mr. Lyons said later.

"People assume that people get in their cars and drive to the pools, but there are also some kids who try to get there by bicycle," Mr. Lyons added. "I suspect we'd kill off a few of them bTC over the next few years" -- were they not to get a pool in their neighborhood and try to ride dangerous streets to another neighborhood.

The council is scheduled to continue its budget deliberations on Thursday night in the Columbia Association Building on Wincopin Circle. Voting on the $31.8 million operating and $5.8 million capital budgets for fiscal year 1995, which begins May 1, is scheduled for Feb. 28 and, if needed, March 1.

Even Mr. Rethman reluctantly conceded last night that Columbia's newest village, River Hill, would need its own pool because it is so far removed from well-pooled villages such as his. No one proposed cutting that village's nearly $1.2 million pool and meeting room.

One of the chief objections to building more pools in Columbia is that many of the 21 existing outdoor pools get very little use.

Three so-called "super pools," built more recently and with more amenities, receive more than 30,000 visits a year. The Hawthorn pool in Mr. Rethman's village is expected to top 55,000 visits this fiscal year, which ends April 30.

By contrast, The Talbot Springs pool in Long Reach only gets 6,000.

One of those who argued for delaying the Kendall Ridge pool, Norma Rose of Wilde Lake village, urged that villages without super pools be given at least one modern convenience: a solar water heater.

The heater uses the sun's rays through glass to heat flowing water. Costing $15,000 to install at the Stevens Forest pool, such a heater would encourage more people to attend the unpopular pools, she said.

A more popular method of pumping up attendance seemed to be adopting a cheaper pool membership, originally dubbed a "six-pack," to encourage attendance at six of the least-attended pools.

Council member Hope Sachwald, who represents Harper's Choice village, persuaded council members to change their thinking to "lucky seven . . . because of the connotations of 'six-pack.' "

Columbia Association staffers calculated the six-pool plan as a way for Columbia residents and workers to obtain new pool memberships for $200, rather than the $240 proposed.

Some council members said they would like to see an even bigger difference in price, however.

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