Aberdeen seeking public input on Coppermine plan to lease Aberdeen Family Swim Center

Aberdeen city leaders would like the owners of Coppermine Fieldhouse to submit a formal contract outlining its proposed lease and/or purchase of the city-owned Aberdeen Family Swim Center.

After several months of discussions with Coppermine and soliciting interest from other parties, Coppermine was the only group to submit a proposal to the city, according to the Mayor and City Council.

The Baltimore-based operator of facilities for indoor and outdoor, adult and youth sports and activities has proposed leasing the Aberdeen Family Swim Center for $1 a year for 20 years, with an option to buy the complex for $350,000 anytime until year 20.

Before the city takes an action on the proposal, however, it wants feedback from city residents who use the facility and has scheduled a public hearing for the next city council meeting, Sept. 24.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it. I think it would be awesome,” City Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said Monday, but nonetheless said she wants the public to be able to comment before committing to such an undertaking.

The city also has to consider that the swim club, when it was purchased for $285,000 in November 1985, it was paid for with Maryland Program Open Space funds.

According to the Annotated Code of Maryland, no POS purchased land may be converted without approval from three state agencies, the Departments of Natural Resources, Budget and Management and Planning.

City Planning Director Phyllis Grover said she has spoken with a representative from the state who said the city can continue with the process, “but make sure you folks talk to us every step of the way.”

In exchange for the $1 per year lease, Coppermine is proposing about $2.4 million in investments to the property, which would include enclosing the pool, relocating and adding a splash pad and adding a synthetic turf field over the grass field and adding outdoor lighting.

About $1 million would be invested in the pool itself, according to the proposal.

Coppermine owners believe they can add 200 to 300 athletes a week visiting the pool alone, if it were enclosed, which they believe would cost about $750,000.

“We have spoken to a few competitive year-round swim programs that would be interested in adding the Aberdeen locations as one of their hubs for training their athletes as well as create a new location to attract athletes from the 95 corridor,” owner Alex Jacobs wrote in his proposal to the city. “This new site would also become a year-round host site for swim meets that would have an economic impact in the area regarding hotels, restaurants and some of your retail establishments.”

Coppermine would also add a second splash pad to the facility to attract new members. Owners have set a goal to reach 400 summer memberships on an average of $125 per family of five, according to the proposal.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County, which has contributed to maintenance of the facility and grounds along with the city and the Aberdeen Aquatics organization, will continue to be part of the swim center, as required by the city.

Coppermine owners say they would “keep and welcome” the Boys and Girls Clubs, the rec swim and rec swim meets and summer family memberships will all remain, if it took over the swim center, according to the proposal.

The remaining $1.4 million investment would be in a turf field and lights to give 60 playing hours a week on the field — 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, which would generate 1,500 athletes per week visiting the site, according to the proposal given the city.

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