CA makes pool membership practical for all incomes

Letter to the editor

November 28, 2011

In the Nov. 18 issue, Jean Daniello expressed a number of concerns regarding the aquatics master plan undertaken by the Columbia Association. In particular, she was concerned about factors impacting Faulkner Ridge Pool use, including some lower-income demographics in the neighborhood.

The aquatics master plan process is a long-view assessment of CA's aquatics facilities and programs plus a look at our community's changing demographics, best practices and industry trends, and community input on what's wanted and needed. I'd encourage Ms. Daniello and all Columbia residents to learn more about the plan by visiting

As CA is a not-for-profit community-service organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Columbia residents, increasing resident participation in our programs and services is something we keep always on our radar. For CA residents who qualify based on income, CA offers a reduction in the cost of membership of up to 50 percent off a new-member rate and a 75-percent reduction for outdoor pool use. CA also has an Earn-a-Membership program that allows residents who fall within certain income levels the opportunity to earn a membership at no cost. There is also the CA Points program, available to students from elementary to high school, which allows students to earn points toward pool passes or family Package Plan memberships. They earn these "CA points" through their attendance at school, their grades and school program participation.

In 2011, 700 students in Howard County public schools earned pool passes and/or free memberships for themselves and their families. In the village of Wilde Lake, more than 258 students earned points and participated in the program. Of that number, 99 students were from Wilde Lake Middle School. We offered 222 reduced-rate memberships in Wilde Lake this year.

Through program offerings such as our reduced-rate memberships, Earn-a-Membership and CA Points programs, Columbia Association has provided access to more than 6,500 income-qualified Columbia residents this year.

I hope this helps clear up some of the misunderstanding about CA's role — and values — around providing access to all of our residents.

Maria Valverde

Town Center

Maria Valverde is general manager of marketing and production at the Columbia Association.

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