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Taneytown pool shuts season's operations after teen unruliness

The Taneytown Community Swimming Pool has closed early for the season at the request of the company managing the facility and after several complaints to the police involving unruly teen-agers.

The management company said it took the action out of concern for the safety of its staff' - after threats from some teen-agers kicked out of the pool for inappropriate behavior.

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The behavior problems, added to concerns about the deterioration of the 1965-era pool and bathhouse, have some Taneytown officials questioning whether the city-owned pool should open at all next year. It is leaking, and repairs are expected to run to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the facility, which is not taxpayer supported. The pool charges daily admission fees and sells memberships.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to grant a request by American Pool Management Inc. of Owings Mills to terminate its contract early.

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The pool, in Taneytown Municipal Park, had been scheduled to remain open through Labor Day, but it closed Tuesday.

Police Chief William E. Tyler said the police had not been notified promptly about several incidents involving young people that had occurred at the facility since the middle of last month. In one of them, a 14-year-old boy is alleged to have put a pocketknife against another child's arm. In another, parents filed a complaint with the police alleging that their child had been manhandled by staff in being removed for disorderly behavior.

"It was one of several incidents at the pool that we were not notified of. They need to call us," Tyler said of the management.

Several other complaints to the police from the community were about "no guidance, a lot of out-of-control behavior by kids," he said.

Scott Wicks, president of American Pool Management's Baltimore-area office in Owings Mills, said his company lived up to its obligations. Senior staff members went to the Taneytown pool to review the situation and suggested that the town provide a security guard, he said.

The company bids for contracts and manages about 130 pools in the area, said Wicks. Neither he nor city officials could provide the amount of this year's contract.

Wicks declined to elaborate on the spoken and written threats, but he said they were taken seriously and eventually reported to the police.

"A lot of incidents were not in plain view," he said. "As soon as we found out about it, it was reported to the police.

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"We are in the business of safety," he said, adding that management used normal procedures in asking those behaving inappropriately to leave - about three or four a day. "But once they left, that's when the threats started."

Taneytown Clerk-treasurer Linda M. Hess said the city had received about a half-dozen calls by yesterday from people with questions or concerns about the closing. The 76 season-pass holders will receive rebates of $20 to $35.

Though the city has run the pool most years, including last year, it hired the company this year after it was unable to attract any staff, she said. The pool closed about a week early last year largely because of staffing problems.

City officials also are concerned about the condition of the pool and its one building, a combination bathhouse, concession stand and office.

City Manager Gary W. Hardman said the pool leaked an average of 10,000 gallons a day this year. Hess noted that additional costs came from the chemicals that needed to be added with each new batch of water.

The city is getting an estimate and has been looking for several years into the possibility of getting a grant for repairs, expected to run into "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Hess said.

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Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said the pool should be shut down.

"I didn't want to open it this year," he said. "That pool will not open up next year, unless we totally rebuild it - the clubhouse, bathhouse - it's all in bad shape, and ... I don't think to float a loan would be a good idea."


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