All 23 outdoor pools in Columbia to remain open

Columbia Association board members this week made their feelings official: All 23 outdoor pools in Columbia will remain open.

The board voted Thursday in support of that sentiment, part of a strategy that CA staff will now use to revise the association's proposed aquatics master plan.

CA has been working for the past year on a plan intended to ensure that its pools meet the future needs of residents and pool users, while also considering the area's changing demographics. The process culminated in a proposal to enclose one outdoor pool and turn another into a pool-less water park.

Besides rejecting the closing of any pool, the board Thursday supported looking into whether to change one of those seasonal outdoor pools to a year-round indoor pool, based on community input and the results of a feasibility study.

The three pools that were candidates for enclosure in past drafts of the master plan are Dasher Green in Owen Brown, Locust Park in Long Reach and Talbott Springs in Oakland Mills.

Jane Dembner, who heads CA's community building and sustainability bureau, said the revised master plan will be brought back to the board in May. No date has been set, however, for when the board will discuss those revisions, she said.

The other strategic statements goals that the board voted to support are: describing Columbia's aquatics program as "a system of neighborhood, community and destination pools"; declaring that the system should continue to evolve to meet community needs; finding a way to create more indoor pool space, which could be done in partnership with the county government and other local entities; focusing on increasing overall pool usage; and, doing a better job of collecting data that would help make decisions about the pools.

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