Memorial Day traditionally kicks off the beginning of swimming pool season, but in Aberdeen young swimmers are having a hard time making a splash. The diving boards that had been part of the swim center for years were inexplicably torn out in recent weeks.
To make matters worse, this was to be the inaugural year for the Aberdeen Penguins Dive Team, who were to practice at the city’s swim club. The team was set to kick off the season with a diving clinic on May 31 and June 1, but those plans are now up in the air – because the diving boards are not.
The former YMCA Swim Center, now known as the Aberdeen Swim Club, sits on Old Robin Hood Road near Paradise Road and is leased out by the city for management by a private entity. The facility features an Olympic-sized swimming pool, volleyball court, picnic area and, until quite recently, diving boards. It was also the historic site of the now-infamous “Michael Jordan Dive.”
Although it remains unclear exactly why diving boards were removed – and why City Hall and the swim teams were not in contact regarding the removal – there is some indication the City of Aberdeen’s Department of Public Works crew removed the diving boards because the structure was deemed unsafe by a city inspector.
According to an email from a coach to the dive team, the boards were taken to a welder to make some necessary repairs and would be replaced if possible. However, the welding company said that they couldn’t or wouldn’t do the repairs. More from the email…
Obviously, not having diving boards makes it pretty hard to field a diving team. So, I am disappointed and frustrated but I am more disappointed for the kids that were looking forward to participating on this team this Summer. We are currently in communication with the City of Aberdeen to see about purchasing new diving boards for the pool. Hopefully, they will agree to do this as the diving boards are a major attraction for people joining our club and for the camps that they have at the club. Aberdeen has the best diving well in all of Harford County and has the only 3-meter diving board and it would be a shame to lose that.
The communication may be paying off. On May 27, the first night of practice for the Penguin swim team, the diving coach informed the parents that Aberdeen City Councilman Mike Hiob had been in touch and said that the city would in fact replace the diving boards.
While the city’s purchase of new diving equipment would surely bring a swift resolution to this diving debacle, and get the swim team back into the water, it opens up a series of new questions.
Why exactly was the diving equipment removed from the swim club and if it was, in fact, deemed unsafe by a city inspector, who was notified? What’s more, there have been rumors that the city DPW has tried to remove the diving boards in each of the last several years. If that’s the case, was it because of the same safety problems? Did the City of Aberdeen know local youths were using potentially hazardous diving equipment?
Presumably, like any other facility, the swim club should be on a maintenance schedule, but is the City of Aberdeen responsible for funding those repairs (as it is with Ripken Stadium) or is the entity leasing the swim center tasked with paying for the improvements?
If the city is responsible for swim club maintenance, it stands to reason the replacement of diving boards should be noted in a budget somewhere. Were the diving boards due to be replaced this year anyway or is this another unanticipated expenditure? On the heels of the mayor and city council reducing the city tax rate, where will the diving board replacement funding come from?
Where are the quotes from the Mayor and City Councilwoman on this? Oh I bet Art hasn’t told them what to say yet. This situation is absolutely unacceptable. Much like our religious friends phrase of WWJD, we now need to ask WWF (Fred) D?
Can somebody full explain the city’s relationship with the pool? I understand they own it, and lease it out, correct? Has the city always owned it? I know it used to be referred to as the YMCA pool.
Anybody know how many members the pool has? Is there a place we can find out? Think not having the boards would affect membership (revenue)? I would think it certainly would help.
Dave Yensan says
The City purchased the pool and all of the land using “Open Space” money. The City owns the pool and has had it leased out since the beginning. The YMCA was the first operator, then for a couple of years it was leased by the Arena Club. Now it is leased to Just4Kids.
I’m trying to contact Mike Hiob to find out the answer to the other questions. I do know that the “inspector” was a City employee who is no more qualified to inspect pool equipment than I am. DaddyRabbit has it right WWFD?
Councilman Mike Hiob says
Steve, et al.,
As per your request, I will try to answer some of the questions posed and clarify some of the statements made. First of all, Dave Yensen answered some of the questions accurately. Thanks Dave. One thing that I wanted to clear up is that the City inspector (and there is only one) never inspected the diving boards (or anything pool related). The City inspector had no input whatsoever regarding this issue. I mention this because in the article written by Steve, he mentioned that Aberdeen’s D.P.W. “removed the diving boards because the structures were deemed unsafe by a City inspector”. Right or Wrong, that decision was made by The City’s Director of Public Works (Matt Lapinski). Regarding general membership numbers….To the best of my knowledge, paid membership has usually been around 120 in recent years. This year however, it’s a different story. Currently, the paid membership is somewhere around 40. Are the memberships down because of the economy? I doubt it. In fact, I think that high gas prices, etc. would normally increase the membership at a local facility such as this. (you know….save gas, recreate locally!) Do I think that NOT having diving boards has anything to do with it? You bet! In addition to the general membership, there is the Penguin Swim Team. Over the last few years, this group has steadily grown to approximately 130 members. Then, there is the “inaugural” Dive Team which consists of about 30 members. Obviously, this group would be “hardest hit” by the decision to remove the diving boards just 3 days prior to the 2008 opening weekend. If you desire more specific numbers regarding all pool related programs, I suggest that you contact “Just For Kids” directly. Back to the diving board issue….Just earlier today, I received infomation that the 3 meter board replacement has run into some “technical difficulties”. These difficulties involve state mandated requirements for replacement / installation of new diving boards. I can’t go into the specifics (because I dont’ know enough about them), but it has something to do with the depth and the length of the pool dive well. If these issues can’t be resolved, then the City may not be able to replace the 3 meter board with a new one. On the other hand, the only issue with the 1 meter board replacement is who can supply and install the desired board in the least amount of time. That issue is being resolved between the City and Rick Culbertson (dive team instructor). Last…..Steve’s article mentioned funding for the new board(s). No, diving board replacement is not in this years budget. Yes, it is another unanticipated expenditure. And….finally, replacement costs will require a budget ammendment. Thanks for the questions. I hope that this information has helped Dagger readers in their insatiable quest for information. It’s getting late, and I get up early, so…………………I’m outta here!
Thanks for the update. The team is up to over 180 kids this year, and many of them are members of the pool, as registration fees are lower if you are a member. So I wonder how many non-team pool members make up the 40 current members? Probably about 1/4? I know it’s early in the season, but how much effect will no diving boards have on signups?
Thanks for filling us in. Were the Mayor and Council informed and opinions sought before this boneheaded removal was completed? If not, why not and what punitive action can and will this Council take? What was the Council President’s response when informed?
More importantly what is Art Helton’s response to this?
I wish HdG residents had an interest in there affaires as do the Aberdeen residents. Im just plain old jealous ! (and a little sad)
Or is it that HdG is Nervana? The perfect City with a perfect Govt and Perfect people.
Mabey our water is treated with a mind controll drug !
Mabey they just dont care ?
Whatever the case….im always amazed at the level of interest and discussion that Aberdeen people show in THEIR affaires.
Keep it up Aberdeen !
vietnam vet says
Don’t feel too bad richie.all that happen’s in aberdeen is complaining by the citizens. complaining to the council is a waste of time. all you have to do is look at there bored face’s. at council meeting.
on a jaunt to the ”other” side of town to check on the local fox that live’s in north deen park. lo and behold 30+ years of neglect from the city of aberdeen. there black toping. west deen st bannister ave etc.
the contractor’s are doing a nice job. very few renters, there now. 99% percent home owners.
they will begin too injoy’ property tax increases right a long with the rest of us.
Vet…well it just feels a little stepfordish now and than.
hdg resident says
It is simply not true that HdG citizens do not speak out about their issues and get involved with local decision-making. One example that immediately comes to mind is the neighborhood crime watch association that was created by downtown residents after they became outraged about drug dealing in some of the back alleys. They have been very vocal with local politicians and law enforcement and have seen a great improvement.
There are a lot of issues for citizens to be concerned about besides marina railings and parking spots.
hdg resident…or whatever many names you use……
Its incredible and disgusting that you try to HIDE behind the good efforts of the minority of HdG citizens who do speak up to make a vailed attempt at asking once again for me to SHUT UP.
Your true adhenda is in your last sentance…and its an adgenda of Proctecting John Narvall…….and silincing those who are affected by YOUR abuses and support of the same. You go directly to the original minor greivance that YOU wouldnt let die…you were a sore looser then…and now….tish tish on you.
First, it’s important to note that the swim team may have more Havre de Grace residents on the team than Aberdeen residents.
Second, I think you have the wrong person again Richie.
HdG citizen forgets this about the downtown citizens….
Lets also remember the $200,000 plus silencing of the same down town folks at the meeting where the infamous “stop work order” was given…
We are well aware of the few….we would like more…but as long as YOU are sucessfull in exacting revenge…it will not happen.
Steve…I was answering to HdG citizen who went directly to a certain issue….my statement to vet, was not a blanket statement… my statement to HdG citizen was a direct answer to his direct statement. My point before, HdG citizen injected the hdg marina issue in here, was that we dont here about hdg affaires as much as aberdeen.
Steve…if they are posting and questioning thats great, (the swim team), thats what we want !
hdg resident says
“Her” direct statement. I wasn’t injecting the marina into the discussion. I was responding to your comment that HdG citizens aren’t involved in community issues, which preceded your comment that HdG was “stepfordish”, and noting that there are many issues of concern that are brought to the forefront–they just might not be your particular issues of concern.
Your comments that are consistently tunnel-visioned and offensive, and in this case they demean the efforts of others. Which I don’t “hide behind,” by the way…my mother is the one who initated the neighborhood meetings and has spoken many times with the city council regarding downtown crime.
And for the record, I’d gladly ask you to shut up without it being (even thinly) veiled.
vietnam vet says
I think we all have our ”issue’s” the dagger simply allow’s us to air them. mine being drunk driveing. if you’ have the money, you can buy or extend your court time to a point the case is thrown out of court.
then you ask your self. where is justice in this? for the drunk a free ticket to ride till he’s caught again. only this time. he has most likely killed some one.
There is also a group of Havre de Grace citizens who should be commended for their tireless efforts in bringing improved athletic facilities to our high school and town. Over my 27 years here, I have met many good caring HdG folks who have worked unselishly for a variety of positive community initiatives- they are to be commended for their hard work and generosity of spirit.
Yes curious..(and HdG) ….there are very many…..very very many volunteers of many types. Without them we wouldnt have the community we have…..they work tirelessly and in many cases annomously but for the love of community and their fellow citizen…asking absolutly nothing in return. They are true heros! Coaches…mentors…community voices…orginizers…donaters…and on and on with every description possible. Giving what they can, in the way they can, when ever they can, Great people !
Every one knows and appreciates these people…yet a mention of appreciatation is not out of line….they deserve it…especialy during this line of discussion…to keep a clear picture that they are out there and even through what seems critical speech…let it not detract from these peoples efforts or give the impression that they are unrecognized. They most certainly are.
Lets keep things in clear context ..as to not go overboard in the meaning of a statment.
Curious…thanks for making the lead into a recognition of good folks…
While I love the Town of Havre de Grace and its beauty by the river and bay, I must insist if you would like to speak about HdG, then have the Dagger write an article on Hdg.
Lets stick to the issue on the Aberdeen Swimming Pool.
HMMM…I CAN AGREE…THIS ABOUT THE POOL ! LETS GET BACK ON TRACK.
GO DAGGER !
As an outsider looking in, I am interested in the progress that the City of Aberdeen makes with the new boards. I am closely tied to the dive league that Aberdeen Swim Club hopes to join (now in 2009). The league has 13 teams and Aberdeen will make 14. There are over 400 kids that dive in the league, and I must say that it provides joy and excitement and teaches hard work, teamwork, respect and integrity to these 400+ athletes.
Rick, the coach of the team, has put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to promote and build the team, and the situation has been a big blow to him. More importantly, it has been an even bigger blow to the new divers and affected families. It is also a blow to the members of the pool who will not have the opportunity to use the boards as they have for the past umteen years. Here’s hoping that a positive resolution can be made quickly.
Dave Yensan says
Mike is right. This is a big blow! I predict that the employees responsible will get a nice pay raise and the diving club, league, pool members, etc get to suffer. There is absolutely no excuse for this gross malfeasance, but once again, as is typical in government, praise the scoundrels and screw the idiots who pay the taxes. Under the previous administration, this would not have happened at all but had it someone would be on the unemployment line!
Just an update on the status of the new diving board. Its in, but will not be installed until late spring 2009, so it won’t have to weather the elements all winter. The dive team hopes to start it’s inaugural season next year.
Bringing this back up to see if anyone knows what is to happen to the aberdeen pool? Is the city planning on opening it themselves this year?