Ideas for how to address the county’s lack of indoor swimming pools are surfacing after years of discussion.

City of Frederick officials are looking for partners to help them float the cost of a public indoor swimming pool or aquatic center on Hargett Farm, at the same time that recreational business leaders are working on a separate plan to build a new pool in the county for private and club use.

Discussions of Frederick’s need for more indoor pools were revived in November, when Frederick County Public Schools announced that the new Frederick High School, set to open in 2017, will not have a pool.

The loss of the pool at Frederick High will bring the number of pools available for 10 high schools and several club teams down to two — one at Walkersville High and one at Middletown High.

Already, there is not enough time before and after school to fit all the swimmers in, said city Alderman Michael O’Connor, whose two daughters are in high school and club swim programs.

“The problem is, the squeeze for pool time is significant,” he said. “When you take the high school programs, mix in the summer programs and standing club teams, there really is a lot of jockeying for time.”

O’Connor and other city officials see a solution. They said they just need to figure out how to pay for it.

The city purchased Hargett Farm in 2009 with a plan to build a regional park. Some sort of swim complex was always part of the discussion, said Roelkey Myers, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation.

Myers’ plan is to build a $20 million aquatic center on the farm. The first phase would include a indoor competition pool, with additional phases for therapeutic, indoor and outdoor recreation programming.

Myers came up with the $20 million figure and the project design after looking at the community’s needs, he said.

Mayor Randy McClement has met previously with county and school system officials about the idea. 

Myers said he is working with a major corporation, which he declined to name, to put together a visual for the project to bring to potential partners.

The Board of County Commissioners discussed the need for pool space with Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban and other school system officials earlier this month.

Alban said the school system will not take on capital funding for the project, because its capital budget is controlled by the county. But the schools could help with operations, she said.

Commissioner Paul Smith said at the meeting that he would push back other projects in the county’s capital improvements project list so the county could contribute.

He said he wants to keep the county’s swimming programs alive.

Commissioners President Blaine Young told Smith that there is no room in the capital budget for it. If the county receives a formal proposal, the parks department could look in its budget to see how the county could contribute, Young said.

That figure could be between $1 million and $2 million, he said, but it won’t be $5 million, which he heard the city is looking for.

Meanwhile, Rob Fox, owner of Fox Swim Club, is talking to Tony Checchia, owner of the Frederick Indoor Sports Center, about building a pool as an expansion to his center.

Fox said he struggles to reserve practice times for his swimmers at county pools. Swimmers must sometimes practice as early as 5:15 a.m. or travel to pools in New Oxford, Pa.

In 2017, with the loss of Frederick High, the situation will just get worse, he said.

“I will have something done by 2017, for sure,” Fox said. “I’m working on my own plan, trying to move my own team and my own company forward.”

Checchia and Fox both said that while their plan will help one piece of the puzzle, by providing private swim space, something still must be done to address the lack of space for school teams, and lack of recreational pools in the county.

Checchia told the commissioners and school officials that someone needs to “steer the ship or drive the bus.”

City and county elected officials should formally study what the community’s needs are, and then develop a sustainable business plan, Checchia said.

“If they could all just get out of their own way and figure out that they have four groups that all have resources and all have a common interest to fulfill a community need,” he said.

Follow Jen Bondeson on Twitter: @Jen_Bondeson.

(26) comments

elymus43

The schools have 10 swimming pools available for swimming. This idea should be DOA. I thought schools were for educating the children to go into the work world???
Let these people join the YMCA and they pay for swimming and etc.. It's great the BOA see a solution, it may like other things, build it and pay for it later????? Why does Frederick City want to keep up with other towns and cities??? The city officials should learn to live within the city budget.

FredFred

Where are the 10 pools located?

audreywells

I am going to take a stab at this.

Catoctin, Walkersville and Linganore all share WHS pool. That means they need 6 hours after the school day, 2 hours each (and that doesn't include the dive team).

Two schools share MHS pool (which is a wreck if you read the FCPS 2013-2014 financial report but don't worry, the boiler, the roof, etc are ahead of it in priority order, because it's too far for Urbana, so Urbana and the other 3 schools in the county (TJ, Frederick and Tuscarora) all share FHA which is being demolished with no plans to rebuild. That's 8 hours they need it 3:15pm until .... well let's just say no room at these pools during swim team for anything but the school's use.

There are 4 club teams I know of in the county. Two have their own pools (HUHU has Health Unlimited, and the Y has their small pool and may use their rental pool too, the outdoor VFW and I think they have grown to using maybe Detrick or Hood as well). MAC's home pool is Hood.

So indoor wise we have MHS, FHS, WHS, Y, Hood. What am I missing? Not sure where the 10 is. While FAST, another club team, uses 2-3 lanes just on Sunday night, Sport and Health can not be on the list. No one is going to pay prices there for a pool members can't use because non-members are in it practicing for high school or club meets....

guitars_guy7

Oakdale is also at Walkersville High School.

My suspicion is this person doesn't know all the pools. They see 10 schools and swimming, so the reasoning is 10 pools. Each of the 3 pools have separate diving practices, which means FHS and WHS have 5 teams using the pool, and MHS has 3.

You can count the municipal pool by FHS or community pools (spring ridge, summerfield, and holly hills among others) but these are hardly public pools, and would have a very hard time with lessons for people who are not part of the respective communities.

Not to mention those community pools are closed the majority of the years.

The benefits are clear to a regional aquatic center. Yes it would be expensive to build but if it truly was a community regional aquatic center there would be plenty of opportunities to make money. Its a matter of having a dialogue with the city and actually take time to come up with a decent idea for how to proceed.

fredneckian

$20million. No big deal. Take it out of petty cash. Put it on the taxpayer's tab. How many of you clamoring for the county to pay for a new school scream bloody murder about how your taxes are wasted? The taxpayers of Frederick county will all be in the poorhouse when the politicians are done with us.

orchote

Out of all of you whiners about paying money for this "extravagance", how many of you would be willing to do away with the football fields of every high school? The basketball court? The baseball diamond? Tennis courts perhaps? If all, or just any one of them were eliminated from county schools, money would be saved, but very few support such a move.

Why does any high school need an indoor pool? Well, why does any high school need an indoor gym? Why does it need a track, and all that field equipment? We aren't talking about a squash court here, or a jalai center. We're talking about a swimming pool, which is exactly obscure in this country.

audreywells

Ironically the town of middle-town is STILL in debt over our football stadium. It was the communities doing, not the tax payers.

audreywells

BALLENGER CREEK GOLFER, why do the high schools needs a golf team? Transportation is not provided from TJHS to Clustered Spires by the school system. Why do they need a golf team? Guess you are saying they do not. 12 kids make that golf team. I personally drive a boy in need every day for 3 months to the golf course because his mom could not. Who are you to kill his dream? You golf. Some swim. Why do they need a swim team? A theater program or a band? Think people. Sheesh.... A viable partner is one local club team on year three of trying to raise 20k annually in a yearly Swim-A-Thon. The support of local businesses, corporate sponsors, donors and pledges for these kids who will swim Sunday in the event is outstanding. You can contact BOD@Frederick AreaSwimTeam.org for more details on how to support this effort or donate by visiting www.frederickareaswimteam.org

Kids need exercise. Have dreams too that weren't Sochi or cross country. Oh... maybe we don't need cross country.... you do need to pay for coaching staff and a paper number for their the runners front and back.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Why do they need a Golf team? Parents need to make the sacrifice, not you. I drive 196 miles/3-4 hours round trip to work, but I am there for my son. I take him to baseball, swimming, soccer, church, etc. I am there for his practices/games. Whatever he needs/wants, I am there for him. Why can’t these parents be there for their child, instead of you? Get on the case of the parents whom are not there for their children, not me!

audreywells

Your points are moot. If a church didn't host scouts, if the elementary school for the being build church didn't host religious ed, if the Y didn't expand to the VFW pool to hold swimming lessons, if the golf courses closed, you wouldn't be driving your kid anywhere. In my example the single mom worked day care. Not everyone has the luxury of a 75k job in DC or Baltimore. I drive my kids to swim and there are NOT 10 pools available to schools or competitive swim clubs (for whoever made that point when I scanned). People should get their facts. How? Come to the next Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission March 13th.

chuckasaurus

Maybe when the back door deals with Walmart were being "negotiated", the county could have made provisions that the current Route 26 Walmart location, which has been reported that Walmart "does not have a plan for", could have been retrofitted/remodeled as an indoor sports facility, to include a NCAA regulation size swimming pool for the use of all local schools for meets and such. Quite simple...Walmart ponies up the cash for the reno, donates the building and land to FCPS (thus receiving huge tax write-offs) and in exchange, they can build their new super store across the street.

darththevader

Wait...what????

FredFred

Good - this has my support. The lack of exercise amongst our youth is deplorable.

chrisafrazier

Just flood Fredericktowne Mall and issue memberships.

audreywells

that's funny! [beam]

dragondancer1814

It's about time there was an indoor aquatic facility in Frederick. Unless you belong to the Y or have the money and time to work around the schedule at Hood, there's not much else. Unlike the majority of other sports that either require good physical conditioning, a partner to play with, knowledge of how to play the sport, or all of the above, swimming is something that ANYONE can do regardless of ability or condition.

And the fact that Frederick High is abandoning their pool while still providing space and facilities for all other sports is reprehensible! Swimming provides far more of an all-around workout, isn't restricted by gender, and provides a skill that can be used throughout one's life. WHY is it that the school has no problem providing space for the "Big Three" sports (football, basketball, and baseball), to say nothing of soccer, tennis, and track, among others, but the swimmers are getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop?

An aquatic center that provides year-round swimming will help correct this whacked-out preference.

ballenger-creek-golfer

Why does Frederick need a new indoor pool? Why does any High School need an indoor pool?

deezilfit

perhaps for their swim team! or are you saying we should do away with swim teams? believe it or not swimming is huge around here

ballenger-creek-golfer

Does a school have a golf course for its golf team?

deezilfit

im pretty sure swiming is bigger than golf around here..have you driven past some of our pools during swim season?

NASCARLOVER

This story belongs in the NY Times, with the rest of the bizarro-news....[thumbdown]

bellboy309

Myers said he is working with a major corporation, which he declined to name. Who's that? The taxpayer!!! Don't you ever get tired of spending, and then wondering how you can suck more money out of the taxpayer.

soule1061

Nice to have, not urgently needed.

president8444

Not with our taxes no

ballenger-creek-golfer

You-re retired, how much taxes do you pay?[wink]

Brian0001

Swimming pools remind me of the old boat analogy. "Never buy a boat rather just have a friend that has one" In this case just replace boat w/pool.

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