A message from Janet Evans, the Columbia Association Council Representative for Long Reach:
Dear Long Reach Community:
Columbia Association has made the very difficult decision to not open the outdoor pools this summer. We have received considerable correspondence and would like to assure everyone that the decision was definitely not taken lightly. We are aware of the importance of the pools to the Columbia community and the impact not opening them is having and we share in the disappointment.
The immediate problem that prevented us from opening the outdoor pools is, quite simply, a lack of available cash.
As you may be aware, CA has two primary revenue sources, the Annual Assessment and the fee income generated by our Sports & Fitness and School Age Services programs. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it became necessary to close our facilities and suspend charging those fees. That dried up an important revenue stream that has subsidized the outdoor pools as well as a number of other programs that are also not themselves self-supporting.
These programs are important to the community so CA has historically chosen to operate them at a loss – meaning that they cost CA more money to run than the revenue they bring to CA. Right now CA simply cannot subsidize these programs.
CA has taken a number of corrective steps in response to decreased revenues such as significant staff and payroll reductions, major reductions in open space upkeep and slashing the capital budget so that only health and safety maintenance is being addressed. We continue seeking ways to help get us through to the other side of the crisis.
Now and in coming months, we will begin to reopen our programs as it becomes safe and economically possible to do so. For our swimmers, we expect the Swim Center and the pools within the fitness facilities to be open by June 20, based on recent state and local guidance.
We have thoroughly examined how we might open the outdoor pools as well but have not been able to come up with a viable solution. The necessary funding just isn’t there and isn’t expected to arrive until the summer is over. The indoor pools present fewer barriers to open, due to existing staff and infrastructure. In addition, even if the outdoor pools could open, it would not resemble the carefree lounging by the poolside and kids splashing with their friends that we have all enjoyed in years past. We are looking at a different reality of social distancing and additional structure to comply with new guidelines that do not lend themselves to free play.
This situation is very fluid and as such, the rules we’re playing by can change quickly. However, at this point in time, this is our reality. We hope you will understand the current situation and bear with us as we do everything we can to get back up and running.
CA Representative for Long Reach