Council hears presentation on pools Police enforcement powers approved for tot lot

January 19, 1996|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Council heard presentations last night on three programs that the Columbia Association's proposed fiscal 1997 budget would fund, including the town's 23 popular outdoor pools.

"I think this is a beast that the residents in Columbia truly love," said Council Chairwoman Karen A. Kuecker after hearing the pools presentation.

A CA representative said the pools attracted 500,000 visitors last year, up from about 300,000 in 1988. The representative said more than 90 percent of visitors surveyed last year spoke of the excellent job done by lifeguards.

Because of the popularity of the swimming pools, two new ones opened last year, in Kendall Ridge and the Village of River Hill.

Council member Gary Glisan, who represents the Village of Oakland Mills, pointed out that the pools program suffered $942,000 in losses in fiscal 1996 and that projected losses for fiscal 1997 would be more than $1 million.

The CA representative said the association was controlling expenses and that snack bar revenues increased last year.

Also last night, the council heard presentations on CA's popular athletic club and its before-and-after-school-care program, which is scheduled to receive $1.161 million for fiscal 1997.

The school program started in 1972 and served 2,200 students last year.

"This is a much admired and much appreciated program in Columbia," said Councilwoman Norma Rose, adding that the program also is profitable.

Last month, the CA presented its proposed $37.9 million operating budget and $3.7 million proposed capital budget to the council. The proposed operating budget is $2.2 million, or 6.14 percent, more than the current fiscal year's budget.

Among other programs, the spending plans would pay for improvements to the town's outdoor pools, summer camps and three new youth programs.

The CA is a nonprofit association that imposes an annual levy on property owners to help pay for recreational facilities, community services and parkland maintenance.

In other action last night, the 10-member council, which is the CA's board of directors, unanimously approved a request that the tot lot at Malindy Circle and Seedling Lane be placed under the county's Title 19 public recreational ordinance. That would grant police enforcement powers in the privately owned area.

"We're having a real problem with it right now with teen-agers gathering there after night and smashing bottles and some of the neighbors' houses being egged," Wanda Hurt, chairwoman of the Owen Brown Village Board, said in an interview earlier yesterday.

Proponents of the ordinance say it is a successful tool in fighting nuisance activity on private property. Without the Title 19 authority, police must notify the property owners about crimes being committed on their properties, then wait for them to arrive.

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