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Board Votes to Terminate Towson Swim Club

After nearly six years, the pool's board voted Tuesday to terminate the project and refund its members.

 

After years of grassroots efforts, hearings and membership drives, the board of the Towson Swim Club voted Tuesday night to terminate the pool project.

, a West Towson resident and member of the swim club's board, said the pool signed only 35 to 40 members during a month-long membership drive, for a total of 220 to 225 members, far short of the on the project.

"Any time you put so much time and effort into something like this only to have it not succeed, it's a big disappointment," said Glikin. "There are many members of our board who donated their professional time, resources, countless hours, not only over the past month and a half but over the past four years or so to try to make this work."

The pool would have been built at the corner of Towsontown Boulevard and Bosley Avenue, near the site of a former county jail, on land to be leased from the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Members who had already signed up will get all of their money back at a later date, Glikin said, though the details have not yet been worked out as the swim club closes its financial books. The 17 board members who spent $60,000 of their own money on design, legal and other fees, however, will never have their costs refunded.

The swim club project has roots going back as far as 2006, when a group of West Towson and Southland Hills residents asked the county about leasing some of the former jail property following its demolition. By 2009, according to a Towson Times article, the swim club was nearly halfway to its goal of 400 members and was planned to open in time for Memorial Day 2010.

A slowing economy, however, caused some members to back out and caused some prospective members to reconsider. The swim club board asked for with the county in 2010 and 2011. The board considered negotiating another extention, but the membership drive fell far short.

"I think the economy is really what did this in. They seemed to have a lot of momentum going into 2008, and that's when the economy just collapsed," said County Councilman David Marks.

"I think any time a community works hard for something and it doesn't succeed is going to be very disappointing and it must be heartbreaking for volunteers who put so much energy into this," Marks said.

The project also faced challenges from some Southland Hills residents, who took issue with original swim club plans that would have leveled a patch of trees and brush that neighbors called the

The swim club following a 2010 hearing. The ravine area would be protected from future development under a . He doubts that another developer will want to build on the swim club site.

"I think what is there now will remain there," Marks said.

Though the pool project didn't pan out, Glikin said the meetings, open houses and membership drives over the last four years were not a total loss.

"I think the best we can say is thank you," he said. "[Neighbors] shared our vision and saw the benefits to them personally of having the pool in the neighborhood and that's the type of thing that I hope won't be limited to just a pool project."

David Taylor March 08, 2012 at 06:03 PM
If there is some concern over selling/developing the land, then maybe there are other solutions. Maybe something on a different scale works... as much as folks like the idea, a private swim club with a "PSL" type fee plus yearly dues didn't attract more than 200 or so families from the area, but maybe a park or a development that serves the community in another way would. If it was setup as a garden collective/club like some sites in Baltimore and other cities, it would put the land to good use, serve the community, and prevent "progress" from forcing a gas station onto the historical site. From what I can tell, it's a nice sunny spot too :) Thoughts? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_gardening University of Maryland supports Community Gardens http://www.growit.umd.edu/Community%20Gardens1/Baltimore%20City%20Community%20Gardens.cfm (Don't miss the Getting Started "Toolkit") http://www.growit.umd.edu/Community%20Gardens1/CommunityGardenToolkit.pdf
JDStuts March 09, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Ugh. David as much as I agree with your idea the reality is the plat is county surplus property. The overarching principle is the county is obliged to obtain the best return on the land to serve the greater good. Credit to Josh and all for their efforts. Their plan had solid investment return on property values. Now it's left to market forces and to be honest this plat, aside from the courthouse gravel lot, is ripe for the picking. The Palisades is the touchstone of the county's need to reinvent. This property must be revenue positive.
David Taylor March 09, 2012 at 04:55 AM
JDStuts - I hear you, and I almost made a remark to that effect, the current econmy being what it is and all that. But... for the last 6 years, when it was still going to be an exclusive swim club, nobody suggested that it should be turned into a gas station (or otherwise sold/rented). Isn't having a community garden area at least as beneficial as having a members-only swim club? We should stick to the plan and utilize this land for the community directly. You know, we'll never get a chance to reclaim the space after it's been sold and turned into a mini-mart... and maybe if the county wants to sell land for a gas station, they should sell the gas station they own across the street. They can locate the fuel depot in any corner of the county, and I expect given the location and that it's already a gas station, they might make a few quick bucks there instead if that's the goal...
David Taylor March 09, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Also, I think I heard once that the site was in effect "reserved" for a community project and not a commercial one as part of the argument/agreement to build the new prison complex up the street not so many years ago, since the community was concerned at the diminishing land in the Towson... but then, I suspect that I shouldn't believe everything that I hear (or remember hearing at least).
David Taylor March 09, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Come to think of it, didn't a gas station a block away just close down and get turned into a Starbucks? Maybe another Starbucks on the site would be a better bet!

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