Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Master Plan for Renovation of the Little Falls Swim Club Pool and Bath House: (May 2014)
Why is this being considered? The LFSC pool is over 50 years old and the “shell” of the pool, (the part of the pool that actually keeps the water in) will not last forever. We had a pool architect come look at the pool and we think that we have about 6 to 8 years. We cannot know exactly how long, of course, but we don’t want to wait until the shell has cracked, have to rush to plan a renovation and miss a summer season. Because we will be renovating the existing shell, we also need to update all of our ADA compliance and bring the pool up to existing code. The vast majority of the time, expense and planning will be directed to the very basic requirement that we replace the shell and comply with 21st century building codes. While we are planning for all of this work, it makes some sense to consider whether we want to explore other potential improvements. In 2012, the members of the LFSC Board decided that they should start gathering input from the community, members and county. The board retained pool architect Dave Almy. Mr. Almy has extensive experience working in and with Montgomery County in developing master plans for community pools.
What are the considerations that need to be taken into account? Many of us have done some renovations on our homes. We have to worry about all of the normal things that anyone has to worry about. First and foremost, how and what are we going to build? What is the bare minimum we “have to” build and what (if any) extra features do we want to include? Secondly, how will we finance the cost? How much debt? How much cash? Normal stuff. But in our case, we do have some extra considerations. The pool operates under a special exception (called “conditional use”) from the Montgomery County Office of Permitting and Zoning due to its very close proximity to neighbors. LFSC was granted this special exception (“conditional use”) because the existing code would never have allowed a pool to be built so close to adjacent homes. In addition, the pool is in a flood zone and near a stream so we have to be very careful about how much impermeable surface we build and how we manage any water flow. Because of these special considerations, we have to allow extra time to work with the appropriate county and state agencies to make sure that we are complying with all building requirements.
If the pool is expanded does that mean that the membership level will be increased? This is an obvious question, especially for future LFSC members who are on the wait list and for neighbors who might be concerned about any increases in activity and noise. The answer, though, is not so obvious. Mostly, because we have a lot of stuff to figure out first. Like how many square feet (if any) would be added. And what (if any) impact this marginal increase has on our membership capacity. And how, if it came to that, would the membership vote if asked to decide on adding new families? And how would we balance an increase of members with concerns the community would have about increased activity? What is clear is that we still have a lot to figure out and that the membership number would not, and cannot change without a lot of input from the membership and from the surrounding neighbors.
Would the diving well be moved back toward the creek? This is another good question and another difficult issue to figure out. We need a design that accommodates a safer diving well that meets current codes. This means that we need to add some length and depth. The problem is that we are not allowed to be any closer to the creek than we already are. (It is worth noting that when the pool did the landscaping in 2005, the county would not allow any activity beyond the retaining wall that ran along the creek).
We are somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place (in this case, the building code and the retaining wall). This is an example of an issue about which we will need to spend a lot of time with the pool architect and the Montgomery County of Office of Permitting and Zoning because we have two important imperatives we need to balance.
What would renovating or transplanting the bathhouse entail? Is there a discussion of adding a second floor? At this time, there is no plan to build a two-story clubhouse or bathhouse. The current “draft” plan is to renovate the bathhouse simply to make it ADA compliant.
What is a pavilion? Four to six posts holding up a roof. It can have a floor. It is a shade structure which can be screened.
All three options removed a lot of sitting area; why aren’t we expanding the fence to the walkway along the foot path to the foot bridge to create more sitting areas? We could explore that option if the membership and community would like to have the Board do that.
The leisure wing seems to have a lot of angles and curves; does that create cleaning and maintenance problems over time? No, that’s a common design. The curves don’t adversely affect the maintenance of the pool.
Would any of the options require more life guard chairs? If the approved pool design includes enlarging the diving well, 8 swimming lanes and a toddler pool, than the area of water will increase, necessitating more lifeguards. As an example, the proposed toddler pool would need a lifeguard because it can go as deep as 3 feet.
Can a slide for the kids be added? If the membership and community would like to have that additional element added, we can explore it.
What is the plan for financing the renovation? We are working on how much we would pay from reserves, how much we would borrow from bank, how much we would increase dues, and how much we would finance through an assessment. We can increase or decrease any of these parameters. This is why we have started the planning process now to get our financing in place.