When Howard County pools open for the season Memorial Day weekend, Columbia Association aquatics director Marty Oltmanns said swimmers will find this year's newest attractions and updates particularly satisfying at four area pools, thanks to more than $700,000 worth of upkeep and renovation projects.
Columbia Association currently has 23 outdoor pools, including two mini water parks; five indoor facilities with six pools; and a variety of programs and lessons for children, adults and seniors.
Admission is free for Columbia Association members; $8 for adults 16 and older and $5 for children, ages 15 and under who are Columbia cardholders; and $20 for adults, $15 for children who are non-members.
All pools are inspected every year and listed for potential updates based on their age and necessary improvements, said CA spokesman David Greisman. The community sets aside funds for pool projects, with the majority of funding provided through capital improvements in the association's budget.
"A lot of our pools date back decades, so Columbia Association – both with some of these pools and our other facilities – is investing in our infrastructure to continue serving the community into the next 50 years," said Greisman, a lifelong Columbia resident.
Oltmanns, who also grew up in Columbia, said Columbia Association merged its aquatics master plan – completed a couple years ago – with its American Disabilities Act plan to form a seven- to eight-year plan for pool improvements. This year's improvements, completed at Thunder Hill, River Hill, Bryant Woods and Dickinson pools, mark the halfway point in the overall plan.
Families, adults and seniors provided input in the master plan, he said.
"The plan includes upgrades to all the facilities that identified bathhouses that needed to be expanded, [and] the community wanted to see money reinvested back into these aquatic departments and pools," Oltmanns said.
Bathhouse interior renovations were recently completed at the Bryant Woods and Dickinson pools, costing $96,600 and $83,500, respectively. At Thunder Hill and River Hill pools, renovations extended to the pool shell and new attractions.
"The big change is the new ADA wading pool at River Hill, which is the part of the River Hill upgrades that we've been doing for the last four years," Oltmanns said. The $370,000 project adds a new beachfront to the wading pool.
Two water slides accompany the wading pool, with two splash play features shaped like a piranha and raging rapids to represent the River Hill swim teams' mascots.
Renovations to the main pool's coping stones around the edge of the pool, tile, skimmer and ADA bathhouse were completed in the last two years, costing over $223,000. The River Hill facility is among three other full ADA-accessible facilities, which also include Hawthorn, Dorsey Hall and Longfellow pools.
Swimmers at Thunder Hill can enjoy the newly installed Aqua Climb climbing wall, which Oltmanns said replaced the deteriorating diving board. Coping stones, tile, a skimmer and plaster shell replacement were also redone.
Smaller projects recently completed include coping stone replacements at Hobbit's Glen, Hawthorn and Stevens Forest pools as well as bathroom floor renovations at Swansfield pool. Greisman said Columbia Swim Center will be closed this summer for major renovations to the bathhouse, lobby and family changing areas.
In the coming weeks, Columbia Association will also begin its two-year budgeting process, Oltmanns said, to help determine future pool upgrades, such as additional ADA wading pools, little spray parks and coping stone and bath houses renovations.
"We try to add something for everybody," the aquatics director said. "The kids and families are going to like the improvements I've talked about because they're fun. Each demographic of our population is going to love a different part of what we've done to our schedules. The pools are part of the community."
Forest Hill Swim and Tennis Club
4310 Columbia Road, Ellicott City
fhstc.com or 410-465-1386
Price: Family memberships are $925, and $462.50 for a tenured membership.
Features: Main pool with diving well, lap pool and wading pool; 10 tennis courts; basketball and sand volleyball courts; playground; clubhouse; and special events.
Life Time Athletic
7220 Lee DeForest Drive, Columbia
lifetimefitness.com or 410-953-0022
Price: Club memberships range from $89 to $180 a month.
Features: Both indoor and outdoor pools. Outdoor pool includes a six-lane lap area, two slides and a zero-depth-entry children's play area with a mushroom fountain and bubblers. Whirlpool; lounge and beach chairs; umbrellas; locker rooms with showers; and full-service snack bar are also available.
Atholton Swim Club
6731 Seneca Drive, Columbia
atholtonswimclub.com or 410-964-0068
Price: Memberships $210 to $525.
Features: The club offers a 25-meter, four-lane pool with a diving well; wading pool with a fountain; tennis courts; basketball hoops; playground; indoor and outdoor showers; deck with umbrellas, tables and chairs; lawn for whiffle ball and soccer. Special events include bingo night, movie night, crab feast and craft night.
Roger Carter Community Center
3000 Milltowne Drive, Ellicott City
www.howardcountymd.gov/rccc or 410-313-2764
Price: Monthly memberships range from $15 to $360 depending on age, residence and length of membership. Senior memberships also available.
Features: The pool offers a zero slope entry with a splash pad and water feature; sun deck; diving board at deep diving well; six 25-yard lap lanes and retractable roof.