Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Construction Update and Q & A

Q: Members have many questions about the renovation project.  Some of the questions that members have asked this week -- did the Board really decide to go forward in January based on the advice of the contractor – who had a vested interest in getting the work? Why did it look like nothing was happening until January of this year? Did the Board make sound decisions at critical junctures? What were we thinking in hiring architects and contractors who don’t typically work in Arlington?  Did the Board and Long-Range Planning Committee who were supposed to provide oversight fail to make clear the urgency of this project?  Why, when I drive by,do I not see workers 24/7?  I am worried that I only hear about the lap pool – does this mean that the other pools aren’t going to open at all this season?

A: We understand the frustration that the project hasn’t been delivered for the start of the season, and the members’ desire to ask more pointedly for information.  We are disappointed as well.  We are also very disappointed at the mean-spirited way a few members have expressed their frustration. We again ask for your patience in this last lap of the renovation.

The plan is still for phased opening.  We focused attention in the recent announcement on the lap pool, because that is the pool that we’d planned to open first, and the pool that many members are already missing – as we would have had an extended season beginning in April if the construction were not ongoing.  As we said in an earlier Q&A, the main, social and baby pools are expected to open about 2 weeks after the lap pool.  With the delay in opening the lap pool, the main pools schedule will catch up a bit, and the difference in opening dates will likely be less than that. 

We think we did have excellent professional advice – in addition to the architect and contractors, we hired a permit expediter who works with Arlington Co. In fact, the County staff told us we should hire an expediter – they said everyone, even the developers, do. Arlington’s permitting process is difficult even for those who frequently work in Arlington.  We consulted frequently with other pools in Arlington who had recently done or are in the process of doing renovations.  In addition, a handful of members with relevant professional expertise also have contributed to the decision-making. One of the greatest permitting delays had to do with the months that the County and Overlee went back and forth over fire protection issues, that were neither related to code requirements nor to the safety of members. Those issues were ultimately resolved with the aid of several of our attorney-member volunteers.
The Membership approved the Construction Project in February 2011 which is when work immediately started. A tremendous amount of work was done by member volunteers prior to shovels hitting the ground in January. The work included: selecting the contractors, developing the plans, getting member feedback, determining the budget, acquiring financing, filing for permits in July 2011, hiring a permit expeditor, battling the County over the permits, determining hundreds of other details from the type of sand in the volleyball court to the details in the upstairs bathroom, and hundreds of hours of meetings to put it all together.

The trenches are dug, the gravel is laid, the infrastructure is in place – but we can’t pour the concrete if the soil is wet.  Thus,it is possible that you will drive by and not see workers.  We can’t afford to pay workers not to work – cost is a frequently-mentioned concern.  Our contractor thinks strategically about getting the different trades into the site as efficiently as possible, and finds work so as not to “lose” a subcontractor to another site if that would delay us.  He’s worked weekends, and has worked some weekends throughout the project.  The weather has been wonderfully cooperative since January, but rain, now, is a problem.  The soil has to be dry enough before we pour the concrete, and unfortunately, more rain is forecast.   We can only promise to keep you posted. We remain optimistic that we will be open in June.

Mary and others on the Board of Directors

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rain Delay

Due to the rain last week and the forecast of rain this week, the projected opening date for the Lap Pool is now mid-June. If the weather clears the contractor still expects the other pools to be open by the time Arlington Schools close.  The Board of Directors is consulting with Greg and looking at many options to try to keep the pools open expanded hours and days to help make up for the lost pool time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Construction Update

Overlee Update

Overlee families: Your board of directors would like to thank you for your patience as we move to the completion of our major pool upgrade.  We have always known that the schedule would be tight, so we appreciate the many of you who have offered encouragement and support as we move to completion.  The weather has not been cooperating with us recently.  Several days of heavy rain have put our planned phased opening back.  The major hold up is that we need to pour concrete and have our parking lot relatively clear of construction equipment before we can get county approval to open our lap pool.  We have been working hard toward that goal.  We have been in daily contact with our contractor, and with his subcontractors and have weekly construction updates with Harry, our contractor, and Eleanor, our architect.  Ultimately, it was the assessment of the professionals that the concrete pour would require dryer conditions.  The best estimate is that we have lost a week to 10 days on our completion schedule.  We are still planning a phased opening, as soon as safety permits.  We have prepared contingency staffing plans for various completion dates.

A small number of members have inquired about refunds.  We ask everyone to remember that this is a community association and that we depend on each other as members to fund both the construction project and to bear the risks associated with this major upgrade.  Put simply, there is no money in the budget for refunds.  That said, we expect that once the pool is open we should be able to extend hours in both the morning and the evening to give members the maximum opportunity to enjoy our new pool.

We thank you all for the patience and understanding you have shown so far.  We are especially thankful for the volunteers who have contributed literally thousands of hours to this project on your behalf.  We were delighted by the reaction of those who came to our open house in April.  We are all disappointed that the project has not been finished in time for our traditional Memorial Day opening, but we're committed to providing a top notch facility for our members to enjoy for many years to come.   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Construction Update

Q: When, when, when?

A: We are on target to open the first week of June. Three major pieces of work remain before we can open the lap pool and bathhouse. One, we need to complete the storm water management system that involves burying tanks and drains under the front parking lot and front driveway. That work must be complete so that vehicles (and our members) can have safe access. Two, we need to pour the concrete pool deck – that will happen in 4 or 5 phases, beginning with the far side of the pool, near the volleyball court. It’s like painting the floor of a room – you need to start in a corner and finish at the door. The ”door,” where trucks have level access to the site, is right near the back gate. Finishing this major piece of work will allow the contractor to pull most of the equipment out of the way of the lower parking area and away from the back gate, so we can safely enter there. Third, we need to install fencing to enclose the pool, and to temporarily enclose the ongoing construction. When these pieces are in place, we should be able to pass the building permit and health department inspections mentioned in earlier Q&As.

Workers are installing the “coping tile,” which finishes the edge of the pool.  This tile must be in place before we pour the concrete for the pool deck.

The new volleyball court is at the far end of the pool, near its old location.  Like the pools, it will be brand new.  Workers are raking the truckloads of new sand.

This trench is alongside the lap pool – where we used to have perpendicular parking.  Workers are installing part of the storm water management system that is mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Act.  We will patch the parking lot when they finish in about 2 weeks.

This is the front drive – you can see the steps to the front desk.  This is also part of the storm water management system that we must install.  The small shingled building is the pump house – notice the small round windows, those came from the old clubhouse. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Q: When does Overlee open?

A: As soon as we can! Our best estimate is that all of the moving pieces of construction and permit inspections will come together during the first week of June. If we can open safely sooner, we will. Check back for updates – the best and only source of accurate information is an all-OVL email, or this site.