The architecture firm hired by the Columbia Association has proposed three options to replace SplashDown, the aging water slide facility in Wilde Lake, after it reaches the end of its useful life.

The options, which range in cost from $2 million to $9.5 million, came out of a feasibility study commissioned by the aquatics master plan and conducted by Williams Architects/Aquatics, the Chicago-based firm hired for the project.

The most expensive option, which would cost from $8.6 million to $9.5 million proposes completely reconstructing the Swim Center and SplashDown into a new family aquatic center, which would support multiple amenities and features integrated into one large body of water; creating a mega-amenity.

The new mega-amenity would consist of a combination of the seven amenities recommended by Williams Architects: a spray play, slides, an active play, a children's play pool, a beach entry pool, a swim channel and a combination amenity known as a "tree house."


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Williams Architect/Aquatics Principal Tom Poulos said this plan is the latest trend in family water amenities, and would present the best opportunity for growth and revenue.

"This is truly in the spirit of a community family aquatic center," Poulos said.

Poulos added that it is an "out of the box" solution, which could serve as a multi-generational family aquatics center.

If CA chose to create this mega-amenity, the multi-use pool that is currently used as a diving area and exit point for the SplashDown flumes would be repurposed into a portion of the integrated mega-amenity.

Currently, the mutli-use pool doubles as a lap pool while SplashDown is not in use, a feature that Poulos said could continue if the new amenity is created.

However, the new mega-amenity would eliminate two of the six lap lanes in the pool to make room for some of the family friendly amenities.

The middle option ranges from $3.8 million to $4.2 million, and proposes remodeling the Swim Center building enclosure, upgrading the SplashDown outdoor flumes and adding two of the seven family amenities.

In addition to adding two new amenities, option two relocates the exit point for the flumes from the multi-use pool into the current area occupied by the wading pool, which would also house one of the new amenities.

CA Director of Sports and Fitness Bob Bellamy said having the flumes exit into the multi-use pool lowers the temperature of the lap pool, causing an issue for adults who use the pool for swim programming.

The least expensive option would be to add on to the existing Swim Center by replacing the current SplashDown with one of seven proposed new family amenities.

This option would cost from $2 million to $3.1 million, depending on the amenity and features selected.

Poulos said one of the drawbacks of the plan includes not changing the existing exterior of the Swim Center, which is not thermally efficient and outdated.

CA aquatics committee Chairman Carlton Haywood said the middle option serves as a fair compromise between the other two options.

"It maintains the slide and adds play amenities, while still retaining the lap lanes for swimmers and programming," Haywood said.

Pool enclosure

In addition to presenting options for SplashDown, Poulos also presented recommendations from a second feasibility study, which looked into converting one of CA's existing outdoor pools into an indoor pool open year-round.

At the Nov. 27 meeting, Poulos presented four options for three sites; Dasher Green in Owen Brown, Talbott Springs in Oakland Mills and Locust Park in Long Reach. One option was proposed for Dasher Green and Talbott Springs, while two options were proposed for Locust Park, which Poulos said has the most potential.

One option at Locust Park proposes placing an enclosure over the existing L–shaped outdoor pool shell, which has an eight-lane, 25-yard lap pool. Poulos estimates this option would cost $5.9 million to $6.5 million in construction costs.

The other option at Locust Park would replace the existing L–shaped outdoor pool with a new, more traditional indoor lap pool, while still maintaining the eight 25-yard lap lanes. Because of the more efficient shape, the construction costs for this option are approximately $1 million less than the other option.

Ed Coleman, Long Reach's representative on the CA board, said the Long Reach Village Board supports enclosing the Locust Park pool.

At Dasher Green, Poulos proposes keeping the existing L–shaped outdoor pool intact, and building an additional indoor pool south of the community center and the outdoor pool.

"Dasher Green had bountiful land that allowed for the addition of an indoor pool, creating a campus-like feel," Poulos said. "

Cost estimates for the Dasher Green project range from $4.9 million to $5.4 million.

Enclosing Talbott Springs would be the costliest option, ranging from $6.4 million to $7.1 million in construction costs.

Poulos said the biggest challenge facing Talbott Springs is parking, as CA would have to add a parking structure to accommodate the increased volume of traffic.

All four enclosed pools come with a lobby, a viewing deck for spectators, locker rooms, a party room and a storage area.

Poulos added that two additional lanes could be added to the lap pool of each of the four options at a cost of approximately $750,000 to $1 million.

Although the options have been presented, Poulos said Williams Architects/Aquatics is still seeking input from the public before presenting recommendations to the CA board on Jan. 10.

"Don't think that the options are locked into where they are right now," Poulos said. "Your commentary will help us develop these options."