Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Questions from Members

Can you tell me when you expect the baby pool to open this summer?

The baby pool is part of the general pool construction portion of the project that includes the main pool and the new social pool (i.e. basically everything except for the clubhouse and surrounding upper deck area) and is scheduled to be completed in early to mid-June.  Our plan calls for a phased opening of Overlee: first, the lap pool and bathhouse (which are not part of the project), followed by the main pool, baby pool, social pool and pool deck areas when they are completed, and then the clubhouse and upper deck area, which is scheduled to be completed in mid-July.

I would like to know when we will hear about the potential effects of the construction on the swim team season.

The Board has been working on developing contingency plans. From a project construction standpoint, we are scheduled to complete the main pool by early to mid-June, before the heavier use of the pool traditionally commences.  Our plan, is to have a phased opening of Overlee: first the bathhouse and the lap pool well in advance of Memorial Day weekend, followed by the main pool when it is completed, followed by the clubhouse, probably in mid-July or so.  This will involve coordination on several fronts but will allow us to maximize the use of Overlee to the extent construction and safety considerations allow.

We are hopeful that the effect of the permitting delays on the swim team will be modest.  As you know, the bulk of the swim practices during the preseason take place in the lap pool because it is heated.  To the extent the lap pool will be more heavily utilized this year because of the construction on the main pool, the Board along with coaches have made alternative arrangements to reserve pool time at Yorktown for swim practices.  That was true even in prior years when no construction was involved before we installed a heater in the lap pool.  The real challenge arises if our construction, which is now proceeding full speed ahead, is delayed further and cannot be completed before school ends.  Right now, we don't see that happening.

It’s good to read your update, and I really appreciate all your hard work to make this renovation happen.

But I have to say it’s very disconcerting to have driven past Overlee in the course of other errands for three days running now (including two hours ago, about 3 pm today, February 22) and seen absolutely nothing happening and no one on the site despite the fine weather and despite it being a weekday.

First of all, let me assure you our general contractor is charging full speed ahead.  There can be any number of reasons why you did not see activity when you drove by.

First, construction crews tend to start early.  When I arrived at my weekly 7 am meeting this morning with Harry Braswell, the general contractor, the architects and members of the Overlee Long Range Planning Committe, Harry's crew was already starting work.  That has been the case each time.  Thus, it wouldn't surprise me if their regular workday ends at 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  If they work beyond their usual 8-hour workday, Harry (and indirectly Overlee) will have to pay overtime, which increases our costs enormously.  To date have not authorized Harry to charge us for overtime.  We're trying to strike a balance between facilitating the work as best we can but still stay within budget.  Thus, we're waiting to see where things stand in late March/early April before determining whether we want to authorize overtime. Harry and his crew have already worked some weekends to try and make up for some lost time.

Second, there are a number of specialists involved with any construction project besides simply the folks who drive bulldozers or perform other more visible tasks.  We have civil engineers, mechanical engineers, soil testing personnel, electricians, plumbing and drainage experts, the excavation and demolition crews, the cement contractor, the pool subcontractor and all of his sub-specialties, etc.  Oftentimes, certain work can't proceed until other, perhaps less visible, work has been performed.  Again, that's why any construction project has a general contractor to manage all of these disparate pieces.  As any general contractor will tell you, they do not want to be micromanaged and instead, want to be evaluated on the end result, meaning the final product and whether they've met the agreed-up deadlines.  We promised Harry we would adhere to that approach.

I hope that addresses your questions.  I really can't emphasize enough that, of all of the challenges we have faced and things we have had to worry about in connection with this project, our general contractor and his ability and willingness to do his job well and expeditiously are not on that list.  Along with the unseasonably mild winter, we are extremely fortunate to have him working for us.


  1. Hi Overlee Board,
    Thank you so much for your hard work on this project. I know it's always a best guess and hope that construction will be done on time, so my question is twofold: Has Arlington County let you know that members will be allowed to access Overlee in stages? I see that's the plan, but if it's an active construction zone...maybe they won't. Which brings me to the second part--do you have a contingency plan for regular members (not swim team)--perhaps reciprocity at another pool?
    Thank you so much for all you do. Anne Lewis

    1. We have met with all relevant departments at the County to discuss this very issue of a phased opening and everyone understands that is our objective. You will recall that, our project construction aside, we open on a phased basis each year anyway, first with the extended season in the lap pool in late April followed by the general opening over Memorial Day weekend. This year, there are two chief considerations involved with our planned phase opening: safety and completion of the pumphouse. Safety is obviously paramount, and we will need to fence off the construction areas sufficiently so no one can wander beyond the fence lines. This involves working closely with the Inspections and Health Departments of the County. They are aware of our plans and have promised to work with us to making this happen. That being said, it will depend on the state of construction at the time and whether the County believes we can take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our members. The other consideration is a construction item: we need to complete the pumphouse because all power runs through the pumphouse and feeds into the bathhouse. Thus, even though neither the lap pool nor the bathhouse is a part of our renovation project, their early phase opening will depend on the completion of the pumphouse portion of the project.

      Your question relating to a contingency plan for regular members is one that is outside the purview of the LRPC and needs to be addressed by the Board.

      Christopher Tai
      Chair, Long Range Planning Committee

  2. Another question. Will swim diapers be allowed in the social pool? I asked a board member at the annual membership meeting and was told yes since the social pool will have a separate filter system, but want to confirm because this will make a big difference in my ability to spend time at the pool this summer and manage my children. Thanks for all of the hard work!

  3. I have the same questions as ^ re the social pool.

  4. At this point, subject to the pool manager's discretion, swim diapers will be allowed in the Social Pool.

  5. Hello all, Dive Coach John Barry here....I just wanted to say that I am excited to get started in our new home!

    I know that there are still questions about when we will be up and running, and you should know that we are working on contingencies for a later start. We are in contact with the County to use Yorktown's new pool for preseason practices, and also for a meet or two if the need arises.

    Right now, there doesn't seem to be any way of telling when the dive well will be open, but there is nothing telling us that it won't open by the end of school at this point.

    I hope all Dive Moms and Dads know that everything is being done to have a great season this summer, knowing that there may be slight changes to schedules/events in the beginning. I will keep up with all parties and send any updates as appropriate!

    Go O!

    Coach John



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