Wednesday, March 11, 2009

North Linthicum Pool Needs Your Help Now!

Community's pool dries up


Published 03/11/09

It was a place where children laughed and played, grew up and worked for 35 years.

Now the North Linthicum Recreation Center Club may be going down for the last time, pulled under by dwindling membership and an economy that's made floating a loan impossible.

"Ever since I've been on the board it's always been a struggle for us to open every year," life-long member Tammy Lovill said. "But we always seemed to get through that."

Board members are still hoping to find a rescue for the club, which consists of an Olympic pool with a diving well on 1.9 acres next to the county's Overlook Park. They've set an April 1 deadline and are seeking donations.

But they aren't optimistic.

"It will probably go up to auction, and will fade away," Board President Tu Armagost said. "It would just be sitting there until someone purchases the land and they can decide what they want to do with it."

Treasurer Alan Doelp, who took office in September, said the financial situation has been brewing for years.

"Membership has been declining for some time and the efforts to recruit new members were largely limited to the North Linthicum community itself," he said.

The club charges $510 a year for a full-family membership. North Linthicum has 840 households, but last year there were only 37 full-time members.

That provided insufficient financial support, so the board decided to advertise to other communities. Funding those efforts, however, proved to be difficult.

"By and large in an operation like this you get families with small children that get memberships so their children have some place to go in the summer," Doelp said.

"You will have membership that wax and wanes as the demographics of the community change."

Just as membership reached a critically low point, the economy slipped in to recession. Doelp said there was no way to get a loan until membership recovered.

The club approached the county to see if it wanted to take the pool over as a public recreational asset.

"They said they were not interested," said Armagost.

He predicts a buyer may build on top of the pool and add more residential units to the neighborhood, something he says would be a shame.

"It improves the property value of a lot of the homes in the area. It provides employment opportunities for the kids," Armagost said. "It is a big tie for local families. People grow up come back and have their kids work there."

Lovill has been a member since third grade and has fond memories of the pool.

"I was up there everyday from open to close. It's just a great place to be with family and friends."

Lovill said membership slowly grew to include people outside of the immediate community and became was a great place for barbecue and kids parties.

"The BGE increase, and chemicals and food it all came to a head in the last year," Lovill said.

"We've had donations up to $7,500 but our bills are double that now with interest and late fees."

Lovill said the board has tried almost everything, from advertising campaigns and to fundraisers.

"We are just hoping for a miracle," said Lovill.

To make a donation write the North Linthicum Recreation Center Club, P.O. Box 71, Linthicum MD 21090.

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