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They ain't broke [Editorial]

For more than three decades, the City of Aberdeen has been able to offer its citizens an affordable and safe place to beat the summer heat at the Aberdeen Swim Center.
For more than three decades, the City of Aberdeen has been able to offer its citizens an affordable and safe place to beat the summer heat at the Aberdeen Swim Center. (Aegis file/BSMG)

In recent times, Aberdeen has developed a penchant for trying to fix things that aren’t broke.

City officials tussled with the Ripken Family over the agreement between the two to operate Ripken Stadium, home of the Aberdeen IronBirds, a short season Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

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In an effort to make their case, city officials tried to portray the Ripkens as not only wrong by not rewriting the agreement both signed, but also as taking advantage of Aberdeen.

The Ripkens stayed on the high ground and offered to pay the city $90,000 — with the potential for more — to control management of non-baseball activities at the stadium. City officials said “no thanks” and agreed to give those rights to another vendor, an agreement which has yet to pay much and doesn’t appear on track to reap Aberdeen anywhere near the $90,000 the Ripkens offered.

Athan Sunderland, CEO of the Huntley Sports Group hired by the City of Aberdeen to book non-baseball events for Ripken Stadium, is seeking the council's approval to book events through 2019.

We bring up the Ripken Stadium fiasco because when Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady and the City Council entertained an earlier presentation from Coppermine Fieldhouse, a private entity from Baltimore, to take over management of Ripken Stadium, the city put the group onto possibly taking over the city-owned swimming pool. Aberdeen bought the swimming pool 33 years ago with $285,000 of state money from Program Open Space.

Thankfully, that money came with covenants that are still in place, limiting how the property can be used and/or transferred to another owner.

For more than three decades, Aberdeen has not only survived the burden of owning the swimming pool, but also has been able to offer its citizens an affordable and safe place to beat the summer heat.

Multiple advocates for the Aberdeen Family Swim Center challenge Coppermine Fieldhouse's plans to take over operations of the city-owned pool and improve the facilities during a public hearing before the Aberdeen mayor and City Council Monday evening.

For reasons unbeknownst to many, Aberdeen officials have been portraying Ripken Stadium and the swimming pool as onerous city-owned properties that have been dragging the city down for years.

Instead of being thankful Aberdeen has two landmarks to be proud of that no one else has – the Ripken Baseball complex and the swimming pool – this most recent bunch of city officials, elected and not, present both as costly, useless items to be unloaded as quickly as possible rather than as valuable assets.

That’s a shame that Aberdeen officials have wasted so much valuable time and city resources trying to fix two things that aren’t broke rather than address issues in more immediate need of help.

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