For some, Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer with the opening of pools.
However, the return of most of the Columbia Association pools this year is even more symbolic amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last summer, all 23 of the association’s pools were closed due to COVID.
This past weekend, all but eight of the CA’s pools were open for the first time since September 2019. The 15 pools opened on the rainy Saturday, but the sunny Memorial Day holiday led to community members flocking to the pools.
The CA pools that are open are: Clemens Crossing, Dickinson, Dorsey Hall, Hawthorn, Hobbit’s Glen, Hopewell Mini WaterPark, Huntington, Kendall Ridge, Longfellow, Phelps Luck, River Hill, Running Brook, Stevens Forest, Swansfield Mini Water Park and Thunder Hill.
The pools that will remain closed this year are: Bryant Woods, Clary’s Forest, Dasher Green, Faulkner Ridge, Jeffers Hill, Locust Park, MacGill’s Common and Talbott Springs.
The CA said the reason for not opening all 23 pools — and for the closing of wellness center Haven on the Lake — can be attributed to budgetary challenges brought on by the pandemic. The Columbia Association, which is both a homeowners association that serves more than 100,000 residents and a membership organization with almost 60,000 members, said its pools are not financially independent and rely on other streams of income from the association.
The CA’s fiscal 2022 budget is 22% smaller than the original 2021 fiscal budget, which was made before the pandemic. Most of the revenue shortfall stems from a decrease in sports and fitness memberships and community services due to the pandemic.
However, the budget situation this year is less dire than last summer — when the association chose to not open any of its pools or operate its camps — because there is an expected increase in services due to the virus’s decreasing presence in the state and Howard County having the highest vaccination rate in Maryland. The CA also will be operating summer camps and reinstating before- and after-school programs in the fall.