They marched into a Columbia Council budget hearing seven weeks ago with signs asking rhetorical questions such as "Is Kendall Ridge a Columbia neighborhood?" and "How can you ignore 3,000 residents?"
Last week, the Kendall Ridge residents got what they had been seeking for about eight years when the council, reversing its earlier position, included in the Columbia Association's 1994 budget $75,000 in planning money for a Kendall Ridge pool. The council had voted against the capital budget item in November.
Kendall Ridge residents and Village of Long Reach officials say they are pleased with the decision that could bring a fourth pool to Columbia's most populous village by the summer of 1995.
But one Long Reach village board member cautioned that residents shouldn't take for granted that construction money will be approved for future years.
"We have to continue to have a high profile on this," said village board member Cecilia Januszkiewicz. "Until we have money for construction, it's not completely over. Witness the golf course."
The $5.2 Fairway Hills Golf Course had been studied and postponed for years until the council approved it last week, with the stipulation that the council get more detail on a developer's recent proposal to build a golf course community just north of the Village of Harper's Choice.
Residents of Kendall Ridge, one of Columbia's newest and fastest growing neighborhoods, have argued for years that their neighborhood has been slighted by a lack of basic amenities provided to other Columbia neighborhoods. Columbia has 21 outdoor pools, nearly one per neighborhood.
The pool, which would cost an estimated $1 million, would be built at the future neighborhood center at Tamar Drive and Old Montgomery Road.
Developers told Kendall Ridge homebuyers that a pool would be built in the neighborhood, residents say. Long Reach has three pools, but they are generally too far away to walk to, especially for children, say residents.
Sharon Cohen, a four-year Kendall Ridge resident with three children ages 3 to 8, said the struggle had left her dispirited about the Columbia ideal of convenient pools, parks and pathways.
"I think it's great," she said about the council's decision. "Columbia has a brighter light over it than before. It makes a big difference to me whether there's a pool or not. Our whole summer centers around the pool."
More than 1,000 new housing units are planned for Kendall Ridge, which could double its population of 3,200 and make the neighborhood about the same size as the Village of Wilde Lake.
Gail Bailey, Long Reach's Columbia Council representative, said vTC the planned growth of the neighborhood was the most compelling factor that swayed council members, several of whom were unaware of the scope of development plans.
She said she believes the inclusion of planning money in the budget represents a "commitment" that the pool will be built.
"We're hoping this is the end," said Ms. Januszkiewicz.
Council member Karen Kuecker, who represents the Village of Owen Brown, opposed allocating money for a new pool, saying it was an "unwise financial investment."
Columbia's outdoor pools will lose about $1.5 million in fiscal 1993, which ends April 30, and are projected to lose about the same amount next year. The pools are projected to generate $1.3 million in income and cost about $2.7 million to operate and maintain, once interest payments, depreciation and administrative costs are calculated.
Ms. Kuecker argued that adding another pool in East Columbia would pull membership away from other area pools that are struggling to maintain attendance.
Figures from the Columbia Association, which operate Columbia's pools and other public services, show that Long Reach's pools -- Phelp's Luck, Jeffers Hill and Locust Park -- ranked 10th, 12th, and 14th, respectively, in attendance last year.
The average attendance per pool in Long Reach was 14,954. Of the other villages with three pools, Hickory Ridge's average attendance was 28,470, Kings Contrivance's 20,672, Oakland Mills' 12,179 and Wilde Lake's 8,258.
According to the Rouse Co., Columbia's developer, Long Reach's population is 12,861; Hickory Ridge's 12,536, Kings Contrivance's 10,648, Oakland Mills' 9,776 and Wilde Lake's 6,590.