Inspector condemns Taneytown's pool

Council to seek proposals before deciding whether to rebuild the facility

January 14, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Repairing the Taneytown swimming pool is no longer an option. The structure has been declared unsafe by a Carroll County inspector, and now city officials must decide whether to build a new facility.

The pool closed in mid-August after problems with the management company, but Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said then that the bigger problem was that the 1965 pool and bathhouse probably would need hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.

"The county came up today and inspected the swimming pool and ... condemned it," the mayor told the council Monday night.

The council members decided to seek proposals for a new facility before deciding whether to rebuild.

Flickinger said there probably won't be a Taneytown pool this summer.

If a new pool is built, it would likely mean eliminating the baby pool to allow a bigger adult pool that is handicapped-accessible, said Councilman Richard L. Hess Jr., who heads the council's recreation and parks committee.

The council also agreed to take advantage of two no-cost offers to the city that were outlined by Hess.

One came from a contractor willing to tear down the bathhouse at no charge, which the council accepted upon the condition that the company is properly insured. The other was to accept equipment such as grills and fryers and air-conditioning units from a local Burger King that plans to close, Hess said.

"I'm not in favor of spending any more money on that pool," said Flickinger, who favored demolition of the facility. "It's like throwing money down the drain."

However, he appointed a pool committee and asked council members for their opinions.

"I think the swimming pool has served this community for several generations, and I think we ought to do everything to see it continue," said James L. McCarron, the mayor pro tem. "I think we need to do it today and not wait until April." He said he would like to see proposals and estimated costs as soon as next month.

"I think we have a responsibility to the citizens. This is a service we provided for 40 years plus," said McCarron, adding that the facility should be self-supporting.

Linda M. Hess, the city clerk-treasurer, said the pool has been self-supporting in the past, running on an enterprise fund independent of tax money. Some years were in the black and some were in the red - largely dependent upon the weather, she said.

"I'd like to see us replace it," said Councilman James A. Wieprecht, who said a new snack bar might make money, if there were a window to the outside to serve others at the park. Councilwoman Jacquelyn J. Boisvert agreed, but said the snack bar shouldn't compete with Little League fund raising.

The pool in the Taneytown Municipal Park closed after the council voted Aug. 11 to approve a request by the management company to terminate its contract early because of threats to its staff and because of complaints to police about unruly teens.

In Hampstead last night, town officials also were to consider whether to spend about $150,000 on its pool - where the bathhouse and concession building needs a temporary wall to hold it up - or to shut it down, Town Manager Ken Decker said.

"What's before the council is the decision to spend a large amount of money to continue to repair this aging facility, or close it down," he said. "The pool has a long history of losing money, and it really is at the end of its useful life - and the foundation wall of the building is collapsing."

As in Taneytown, a group in Hampstead has been formed to try to save the pool, which has about 100 family memberships and is supposed to be self-sustaining, Decker said. The revenues may cover operating expenses but cannot cover repairs - and taxpayers often foot the bill.

At a Town Council meeting last night, members voted 3 to 2 not to open the pool this summer, but said they might reopen the facility in the future.

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