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