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Cascade Lake, despite coronavirus pandemic and 2018 draining, reopens pool to public

Patrick Flynn and his wife Suzanne have gone through their share of changes to Cascade Lake since they purchased the facility 28 years ago — even before the current pandemic.

One year after taking over as owners of the Hampstead venue, in 1993, the Flynns added a large waterslide that sent riders into the lake. Pavilion space was also available near the six-acre lake, 22 acres in all.

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Flynn purchased 51 acres adjacent to the lake in 1999, and soon after a pool (and another waterslide) and a separate splash pad area were added, to go with more pavilions and a concession stand site. But in the summer of 2018, Cascade Lake lost its trademark ― the lake reached its maximum capacity after some storms, flooding nearby roads. The state used a controlled dam breach, and the lake was drained.

Since then, the Cascade Lake staff went from more than 30 members to the single digits. Still, Flynn kept the facility going. And with Gov. Larry Hogan allowing pools to reopen with some limitations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Cascade Lake is back in business once again.

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“We’ll see what happens. The response on the telephone has been real good,” Flynn said Tuesday. “The telephone has been busy. Now, will that translate into action, with people coming and spending [money] at the gate? That we don’t know.”

Flynn said the facility opened to the general public June 20, but bad weather and Father’s Day weekend led to a low turnout. Cascade Lake gets much of its business, Flynn said, from private groups and organizations, many of which come from outside Carroll County.

ABC Care, a nonprofit child care company based in Finksburg for children from kindergarten to eighth grade, is one of Cascade’s loyal customers. The pandemic put a crimp in everyone’s summer plans, but director Cara Kishbaugh said her ABC campers weren’t about to miss out on one of their favorite summertime stops as long as Cascade was available.

“We’ve been here for years,” Kishbaugh said Tuesday while her campers played in the pool, supervised by her staff and a pair of Cascade lifeguards. “There was [some doubt] because I know a lot of our field trips got canceled. So there was a little bit of a worry, but [Flynn] was great. He worked with us so we could come twice a week right now.”

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ABC Care is on Cascade’s schedule for Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Flynn said several groups have dates booked throughout the summer. Others have decided not to come back this year because of uncertainty amid the pandemic, but Flynn takes a positive glance at the issue.

“We have days opened up. ... This is the first time this pool has ever been open on the Fourth of July in 20 years,” he said.

Flynn said the fee to use the facility is $15 for anyone 8 or older, or $13 for kids ages 1-7. Flynn said the Cascade pool is set to be open on weekends in July from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Flynn said his facility will stay open throughout the summer (he has an event booked for Sept. 6), and groups can rent the space for their exclusive use. Hours are to be determined by an agreement between customer and Cascade.

“We’re flexible,” Flynn said.

ABC Care’s kids get swimming lessons during their time at Cascade, Kishbaugh said, but they also devote some time during their outing to enjoy the splash pad playground area apart from the pool. Kishbaugh said the pool’s slide and “beach entry” style are appealing to the little ones.

Flynn supervised and patrolled the grounds from his golf cart Tuesday afternoon, and he’s hoping crowds will grow as the summer weekends progress. Some customers debate the cost, while others pine for the return of the lake.

Flynn said it’s not coming back while he’s still an owner. Cascade Lake is up for sale, and he said that if the right buyer emerges he’s ready to make Florida, his residence for seven months out of the year, a permanent home.

But the co-owners for the better part of the past three decades still consider Cascade Lake a gem.

“Emphatically. There is no more beautiful place,” Flynn said. “I’ve lived elsewhere. There is no more beautiful place that I have been than this. But it requires young blood now to come in and take it way beyond where it is. ... We come back here for five months. Our vehicles are registered in Florida, we’re registered to vote in Florida, our home is there. We’re just back now to run this.

“Now, there are worse places to be, of course. It’s still a gorgeous place, still fabulous.”

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