FAQs: What does the COVID-19 Pandemic mean for LFSC?
OK, let’s cut to the chase…how will you decide if and when the pool will open?
Our best guess is that it will not be up to us. At this point, we are assuming that we will receive guidance from state and county authorities such as the Montgomery County Department of Health.
Why did we still have to pay dues if we don’t know whether we are opening?
As Equity Members of this club, we all have a financial obligation to cover the fixed costs of the pool each year. When we discussed this situation as a Board, we used the analogy of owning a beach house. Consider if 377 of us had all pooled our money to buy a really great beach house. If we had a terrible summer with rain and storms every day and no one could use the house, we would still have to pay the mortgage, insurance, utilities, repair the roof, and pay the staff that watches over the house all year. It would totally stink to not get to use the house and we would save some money but certainly not all of it. In the same way, over 50% of our pool season costs each year are fixed: our renovation loan payment, our contract with our management company, our administrator, our utilities and security system, our insurance bill, and tree maintenance. We 377 Equity Members pay these expenses whether the pool is used or not. Some of our other expenses cannot wait until we know for certain whether we will open. We have to pay the bank. We have to pay the insurance companies. We have to pay Bethesda Aquatics for the time it takes to de-winterize the pool, prepare and schedule the county inspections, hire and train lifeguards and managers. We have to pay inspection fees and order our initial delivery of pool chemicals needed to prime the system. We could not pay for any of these things if we had not collected dues last month. Most critically, we would have been in danger of defaulting on our loan.
OK, I get that we have fixed costs. Why didn’t we just postpone the dues collection until we knew whether the pool was going to open? Then maybe we would not have had to pay as much?
We want to thank the vast majority of our members who renewed their registration and paid their dues on time. Our first dues notice was emailed March 2, before the COVID-19 outlook changed so dramatically. As we approached the March 23 dues deadline and were assessing the drastically changing circumstances, we considered whether we should postpone dues.
Due to uncertainty at that time, and out of fairness to the majority of our members who had already paid their dues, we ultimately decided not to change the registration and renewal deadline. Please know that this did not mean that we were not incredibly worried about all of our community members; we fully understood that this was a difficult time for many of us. Fortunately there were relatively few people who paid their dues late but given the extraordinary circumstances this year, we waived all late fees.
This is a time of financial hardship for some families in our community. Are any accommodations being made for Equity Members facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We know that some of our members are managing family, financial, and professional crises precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fall-out. We are a community of families, friends and neighbors, and the LFSC Board is committed to responding to the individual needs of our members with compassion and flexibility. As fellow equity owners of the pool and responsible stewards of the pool’s finances, our goal is to balance our fiduciary responsibility to the membership with our heartfelt personal duty to our members experiencing hardship.
This year, as in past years, our membership committee reached out personally to any members who had not been in touch with the pool by the registration deadline to make sure that they were OK.
We want everyone to know that the LFSC Board members have always done their best to work on a case-by-case basis to provide flexibility for our fellow community members who are experiencing a challenge or hardship. We recognize that any of us, at any time, can be impacted by an injury, illness, or a change in family or employment situation. Requests for flexible payment arrangements are managed in a discrete manner by just a few Board members who maintain the strictest confidentiality.
Will we get a refund if the pool opens late, or not at all? And, if so, how will you calculate the amount and when would we receive it?
In the unhappy event that we cannot open the pool at all for the 2020 season, we expect that we would be able to refund some portion of the 2020 season dues. We also expect that we could issue a refund for a late opening on a pro-rated basis. We have consulted with Bethesda Aquatics, reached out to other vendors and generated contingent financial projections based on some potential scenarios:
- Opening June 15: three weeks late
- Opening July 15: seven weeks late plus two extra weeks in September
- Open August 15: eleven weeks late plus two extra weeks in September
- Not opening at all
The situation is so fluid and uncertain, we do not know when we will be able to issue any refunds. Even if we open June 15, we most likely would not calculate and issue a pro-rated refund until the end of the summer. It could be that our expenses will go up, even with a late opening, due to increased end of summer utilization relative to past years so we would not want to calculate refunds prematurely.
What other adjustments to fees will you be making?
We are still not sure whether we will have Handyperson Days so we have not made a decision about Handyperson fees. Even if we do hold Handyperson Days, we will encourage our members who are 65 or older to take the day off and we will waive their Handyperson fees.
Will you enact any new protocols or rules if and when we do open?
There are so many unknowns but one thing we do know is that it will not be “business as usual” if and when we open the pool this summer. We have discussed ideas ranging from lap swimmer limits to social-distanced Handyperson Days to cancelling social events but we have made no definitive plans or decisions. We will seek up-to-date guidance from health and safety authorities and prioritize the health and well-being of our members and guests. One plan we can confirm is that we have asked Bethesda Aquatics to hire a professional cleaning service to deep clean the bathrooms and concessions area on a regular basis.
When will you open the tennis courts?
We were really disappointed to have to close the tennis courts and look forward to opening them when health and safety officials deem it safe to do so. In fact, we had planned on repaving the courts this year due to wear and safety reasons so this forced closure is occurring during the time we would have closed for the resurfacing anyway. For all you Pickleball fans, we are excited to announce that we will be adding lines for you on Court 3.
When will we know whether there will be a swimming and diving season?
We have hired a coaching staff for both our swimming and diving teams. The swimming and diving team reps have been hard at work preparing for a 2020 season. Once we know if and when pools are able to open, we expect to learn what the area swimming and diving leagues decide for the 2020 season.
As of April 5, the Montgomery County Swim League had posted the following message:
“Due to the seriousness of the current COVID19 Pandemic, many are wondering about the prospects of our 2020 competition season. The health, safety, and well-being of our athletes, coaches, and families are our highest priority. At the time of this writing, our hope is to move ahead with our swim season as usual. We recognize, however, the uncertainty regarding how the pandemic will affect our communities over the next several weeks. We do not wish to make any hasty decisions. Ultimately, arrangements for this summer’s MCSL season will be based on federal and local government guidance and restrictions, and with input from our member teams via the team representatives.”
The MCSL website can be found at: http://www.mcsl.org.
What has happened with the women’s bathroom renovation?
It happened! We are putting the finishing touches on the newly renovated bathroom and it is gorgeous, if we do say so ourselves. As most of you will recall, we voted on the project and signed the contract this past Fall. We are also considering a few minor, low-cost upgrades to the men’s bathroom. As we discussed at the Annual Meeting, a full-scale renovation of the men’s bathroom will require a significant change to the bathhouse infrastructure because we will add a family bathroom at the same time. We have planned that project for a few years from now, provided we have the resources.
Are there any other building and grounds updates?
In addition to our near-completion of the women’s bathroom renovation, and the planned repaving of the tennis courts, we are pleased to announce that the solar panels have been installed. We have also initiated our regular springtime landscape and grounds maintenance, including mowing, trimming, weeding and mulching. We will be laying new hardwood mulch on the path and doing preventative care for our trees.
If the pool opens late, could we just stay open later into September?
In the case of a delayed opening, the LFSC Board has discussed amongst itself and with Bethesda Aquatics the possibility of extending the pool season into September. There are many issues we would need to investigate: the potential demand and utilization, the comfort level of our neighbors, the availability of lifeguards and managers and the permitting exception required by Montgomery County. Given the extraordinary circumstances, we do believe that it is at least worth our time to explore the possibility.
Will we still have Handyperson Days?
The LFSC Board is committed to completing all preparations in the case of an on-time opening but our primary concern is the health and safety of our members, staff and guests. For the time being, we have indefinitely postponed our Handyperson Days. If needed, we will pay Bethesda Aquatics to do the work that would normally be done on our Handyperson Days.
When and how can we expect to hear updates?
We will be communicating updates through Member Splash at the email address where you received this message. We will follow-up with messages at our website.