Joppatowne Residents Attempt to Save Defunct Mariner Point Swim Club

When the pool at the heart of their community was shut down and put up for sale, Hanna Fitzpatrick, 13, her younger sister Katie Fitzpatrick, and their friend Grace Barnhart helped spark a long shot effort to save the beloved place where Joppatowne families had gathered for decades. It’s a long shot that could soon pay off.

Privately owned and situated on 4.5 acres along Joppa Farm Road, the now defunct Mariner Point Swim Club included a seasonal swim club, pool house and outdoor sport courts. Area residents say the facility offered the only green space in the center of their neighborhood; a place where families would socialize and children like Hannah, Katie and Grace spent all day in the summer.

The girls have been pleading their case to reopen the facility since June, starting with a knock at the door of their Joppatowne neighbor Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie. With advice from Guthrie, the trio helped launch a community effort that thus far has included roadside rallies, an online petition with 700 signatures, a facebook page and now, a presentation to the entire County Council planned for Tuesday. Adult organizers say their goal is to get the county to buy or lease the property, reopen the pool, and build a much-needed community/senior center for Joppatowne on one of the few available spots in town.

According to an online real estate listing, longtime owner H. Murray Stephens put the property up for sale in November 2012, asking $679,500. The Baltimore-based Southern Baptist Church, which currently meets at Aberdeen High School, reportedly made a bid, with plans for a “Life Center”, banquet hall and gym. However, no such plans for the site had been submitted as of Friday to the county Department of Planning and Zoning, according to director Pete Gutwald.

It is also unclear whether a final deal on the sale of the property has been reached.

Dr. Donte L. Hickman, Sr., pastor of the church, did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did Stephens, who is also the founder of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club where Olympian Michael Phelps began training.

The online real estate listing appears to show the property under contract in June and off the market sometime in August. However, Councilman Guthrie said on Friday it is his understanding that there is no final agreement and he has engaged officials in county government to consider buying the property, if available, for a community center similar to the one in Fallston. Any such plans would be subject to approval by County Executive David Craig and a majority vote of the Council. Guthrie said he plans further comments Tuesday at the council meeting, where his fellow Joppatowne residents will be making their case.

Hannah said she plans to attend the meeting along with her fellow advocates, Katie and Grace. After a summer of civic engagement in Joppatowne, Hannah’s goal remains: “I hope to get the pool back.”

Below is a copy of the statement planned by Joppatowne residents:

“We have come here tonight to ask for your support. The Joppatowne community is in jeopardy of losing the only green space available within our community. Our community has never had any land available for a recreation center until the property at 512 Joppa Farm Road went up for sale. The Mariner Point Swim club is located on 4.5 acres in the center of our town. If this property is sold there is no other property within our community for this purpose.

We are putting forth all of this energy and effort for the purpose of saving our pool. It is not just the pool at stake here but the quality of life for this generation and future generations. We are a water community, with the marina just yards from the pool location. There are no other outlets for our kids in the summer. Students and adults alike have no place to go in the summer.

At this time our Golden Agers have to travel to the Edgewood rec center for their weekly meetings. Other groups within Joppatowne also have to find other outside locations to gather. 10.6% of the population of Joppatowne is 65 years of age or older.

This is the only and last opportunity to acquire land in Joppatowne for a future Recreation center. Fallston, Bel Air, Edgewood, Harve de Grace and Churchville have recreation centers. We feel Joppatowne also deserves this amenity. It would be a major asset for the community especially our children.

We are asking for your help and guidance with this endeavor. All of our efforts are directed toward improving the life of the citizens of Joppatowne and equity in services around the county.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
GLORIA BARNHART
MISSY BUTLER
SAMANTHA DIBASTIANI
GINNY LEMKEN
EILEEN MAAS
HAZEL MORGAN
PATTI RATLIFF
MARY E. SMITH
FRAN SALBECK”

From committee member Missy Butler:

“Our main concern is that we want to keep the pool and eventually build a community/senior center on the property. We are one of only a few towns in Harford County that does not have a facility of this kind. Since the pool is privately owned and is currently under contract we heard that the county cannot intervene. We are hoping that the county council will be able to help us save our pool. We are hoping with the rally’s we have held and I’m sure there will be more to come, and the advertising from our printed and online petitions we can gather enough support to encourage the County Council to act on our behalf and submit a bid to purchase the property. The church that has the bid in on the property has no connections with our community. This church will cause so much hectic traffic for our little community and not just on the weekends for service but several days a week with its proposed life center, banquet hall and gym. Our community is entirely too small for this type of action. There is only one main road into our community and it will be totally bottlenecked. We want to save the pool for our community to enjoy as they have in the past.

SAVE THE POOL!!!!”

The online petition to “Save the Joppatowne Pool” can be found here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-joppatowne-pool/

Comments

  1. says

    Although I am not a Joppatowne resident, but I been involved with the Joppatowne Rec swimming program for the past 12 years. I totally agreed that a community center at that location would be a wonderful addition to the community. I can picture a community center that can be used as a summer camp for the children at Joppatowne. This would mean summer employment opportunities for both adults and teenagers. My daughter and many of our Joppatowne Tigersharks swimmers and Coaches were working at Mariner Point Swim Club and swimming for our program at the same time. Swimming is a big sport in Harford County from high school to year round to summer. The demands are overwhelming. The line starts to form before we open the door to our swim program registration for the past few years. I can see Hannah, Katie and Grace as our next generation of swimmers/lifeguards/instructors and then the next group up. The cycle just keeps going year after year. What would give a better meaning to community center than this? There are so many possibilities to explore. The swim club been neglected. Mostly due to the facts that the owner’s heart is not into running the club. I truly hope that everything will working out for all of the Joppatowne residents.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5
  2. dannythomaswood says

    Good luck Hannah and Katie! Wish you and everybody every success with saving the pool. It’s a good thing for J’Towne, the kids, and their families. I hope the politicians can work it out and make it happen. Our HOA has a community pool and it is a great way to bring the community together.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
  3. Mr. Mrs. chet Kirstein says

    I would Love for the Pool to Re Open . My Children went there and now my Grandchildren . We were sad that it closed and Hope it will Re Open !!!

    Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
  4. Christopher Boardman says

    I was president of the Joppatowne Community Center, Inc. when it acquired the pool in 1992 and we operated the pool for two seasons. I agree with petitioners who want to pool to re-open, but I was disappointed with the community in the early 1990′s when we proposed that the pool be acquired by the community. For just $300 per household, the community could have purchased the pool and surrounding property in the center of town. Our proposal was for each home to make a contribution of $100 per year for three years, money that would be collected by the county. There would have to have been some legal management issues resolved since Joppatowne is not an incorporated community, but they were resolvable. Unfortunately there were nasty campaigns launched by various parties in the community against our efforts, so we had to retreat and collect money only from families that actively wanted to be involved in the pool. This ultimately was not enough money to pay to acquire the pool. But when I look back at this proposal, I have to note that the pool would have been paid off 17 years ago and the community would own it free and clear now.
    Our efforts to obtain the support of the county government were also not productive. The Rehrmann Administration thumbed its nose at our efforts; now this current situation is where it has come to. I have told anyone who would want to listen that a possible funding mechanism should be the extra assessment paid by Joppatowne residents to the county’s Joppatowne Sanitary Sub-district which residents still contribute to. Now that Joppatowne is already connected to the Sod Run Plant and we have been paying the extra assessment of $90 per year to the county, they should have some money they could give back to the community for the swimming pool. The pool’s supporters should be talking to the county about this and other funding opportunities.
    Even for families that do not use the pool, the pool and property remain as an important asset for the well being of Joppatowne. There are many good things that could be done for the community with this property. Our original proposal is still a good one, but it does require that people support their own community. At the same time there does not seem to be any reason in my mind why the committee organizing this latest effort to save the pool should not collect pledges of money from residents in the community.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6
      • Eileen Maas says

        If I remember correctly, Joppatowne’s water treatment plant was not large enough to handle all of the new construction and there was a building moratorium going on when we moved here in 1972. Until Joppatowne connected to the Sod Run plant and the county started collecting the $90 fee, no new construction was allowed.

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    • LOL YOU says

      Why is it odd that you found a lot of people were not interested in paying for something they had no interest it?

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2
    • ron jenkirs says

      A private business needs to buy and operate the Pool, end of comments. You buy a swim club membership if you wish to swim, like everywhere else.

      Who in Harford County govt would operate the pool, and where would you get the money from local government?

      Have you looked at operating cost of running a large pool like that since 1990?

      No doubt, there would be more than just Joppatowne residents going for a swim in the community watering hole, so you plan to employ measures to stop that, too? People working there require a wage.

      the idea that Joppatowne residents have to pay for some jagoff from somewhere else to swim for free, sounds like a great plan, amiriteaboutthat?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
  5. Sheeple says

    Well that’s really neeto, when your little “save out pool” feel good is over it will be redeveloped into something else.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
  6. LOL YOU says

    I imagine if one couldn’t get many people to contribute monetary compensation for a “community” Pool that they had no interest in using back in 1990, that number is probably substantially even more who wouldn’t be inclined to contribute in current day.

    Nope, the really only way I see it being saved is if something like a Gym (Private business) can build there, and have the bonus option of keeping the Pool… you know, “Membership.”

    That’s alright though, the joke wont be mine when the dozers and excavators are filling dirt in what was once a pool.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7
  7. Fair Government says

    Well the County built and funds Community Activity Centers in Bel Air, Fallston and of course Havre de Grace which they staff and fund. Each of these buildings cost in excess of 5 million to build and the need nor the community support was there for these projects. Not saying these buildings aren’t now utilized but the need in the Joppa/ Edgewood/Aberdeen areas should have trumped the disadvantaged in the Fallston /Bel Air Area ” good luck”. Pools loose money in many cases because the yearly fee is to high for the occasional user. I know the Aberdeen pool increased their membership when 4 times when they made the membership affordable to the Aberdeen residents $125.00 so those folks that only planned on attending occasionally still joined.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  8. BillH says

    A privately run operation could not make the swim club a viable operation, there is no way if the government is going to run it it isn’t going to lose twice as much money.

    HELLO COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBERS, IT ISN’T YOUR MONEY YOU ARE SPENDING…. it is ours and please stop wasting it on doomed projects with skyrocketing costs.

    Please I beg you on behalf of the harford county residents you are so intent on bleeding dry leave this property in the private sector continuing to collect taxes that you spend like my 17 year old daughter with no job and a credit card….

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4
  9. Old Skool says

    Stop living in the past, bulldoze it and build something. The darkies will take it over in no time.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9
  10. Christopher Boardman says

    There is no hope for those who express only negative thoughts and are not constructive in what they say and do.
    But what I say to Joppatowne and to Harford County is, ‘HAVE A HEART.” A community swim pool is an asset any community should have and it should be preserved. Would you rather have your children growing up on the street, swimming and maybe even drowning in a polluted river when they can have supervised recreation at a community swim pool where there are lifeguards? Children are not able to build and maintain swimming pools. Joppatowne has a nice community pool but the community and Harford County generally have not figured out how to keep it running. Everything that is done for a community cannot be a successful business; it requires community, business and government support. A lot of people have to help. There are community swimming pools in many cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia ; they are maintained by the cities and they are important to the children and families who live there. Otherwise they would not exist.
    Over by the Edgewood post office are the ruins of another community swim complex developed by the YWCA some years ago. There was a lot of love that went into creating that for Edgewood, but there was a lot of neglect that allowed it to fail. We have seen all kinds of problems in Edgewood involving children and youth. Wouldn’t it have been better if the Edgewood Y’s pools were still in use? How obvious does this have to be?
    Twenty years ago when we were fighting to keep the Joppatowne pool, the legislative delegation in Harford County bought outright a swimming pool for the City of Aberdeen with state monies provided by the legislature. The reason they wouldn’t do this for Joppatowne was, according to what they said, because Joppatowne was not incorporated. But we paid state taxes just like everyone else. The same thing could have been said about Edgewood, but by that time the pool in Edgewood was already in ruins. It was obvious our elected officials didn’t want to do anything then and we are waiting to see if they will do anything now.
    But other writers are correct in noting that the county has spent fortunes to build big recreation and seniors complexes in other parts of the county, and yet they are so stingy and selfish and tight-fisted with other communities. I note that some bright lights built a huge police station for the southern precinct of Harford County which is practically empty, apparently with a mind that we should lock up lots and lots of people in Edgewood and Joppatowne and spend a lot of money on that, but that it is too much to spend a little to help a community swim pool that has operated for years that might actually help children and families.
    Once again, all of you negative people out there, I will pray for you, but the poison you put into the well does hurt other people, namely your own community. It’s time for people to be helpful and constructive.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2
    • George Penskilski says

      ” Would you rather have your children growing up on the street, swimming and maybe even drowning in a polluted river when they can have supervised recreation at a community swim pool where there are lifeguards?”

      I grew up without a “community” swimming pool, and so will others. It isn’t the end of the world if an area doesn’t have a community swimming pool, get over it.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5
    • Come on man says

      What makes you believe a Police Precinct needs to have lots of people in it all the time to justify building a nice new one? It’s not a Jail.

      Pro Tip: If you notice the Precinct parking lot empty of Police cars, it’s probably because everyone is out working.

      Herp derp, durrrrRRRRRR?

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
    • B says

      And I pray that there will always be people out there that will say no to you big government, big spending liberals.

      There is a neighborhood pool in edgewood, which was closed for multiple years from need of repair. The people of that neighborhood saved their money and fixed that pool on their own.

      Stop crying for others to fix your problem and get to work.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3
  11. jealous says

    Why not put up a community recreation center without a pool? Why is Joppatowne, one of the oldest communities in this county, deprived of a recreation complex like the beauties that Joppatowne tax dollars support in Fallston, Belair and Havre de Grace? Where is our community center with space for exercise classes and sports? The rest of harford county gets health-promoting activity centers and we don’t; why can’t we get healthy too?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  12. LilJimmy says

    What the heck happened to joppatown? At one point in history i was a major port of trade to the world today it is nothing more than a combination of east baltimore and dundalk with a touch of lower class glen burnie that can’t even support a local pool enough to stay open.

    Are those apartments on the way in across from redners section 8 housing?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
    • The Money Tree says

      Joppatowne was destroyed by developers and politicians who pretend they care about communities only to throw certain communities under the bus in exchange for the “right” kind of development. Does it make sense to you that land closer to the bay is worth less than that in Forest Hill? Forest Hill was nothing but farmland – far removed and difficult to get to but now worth much more. If you check records from a few decades ago you’ll find who was in cahoots with who – same song and dance that continues today.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
      • LilJimmy says

        Joppatown was nothing but bean fields before someone had the sense to turn it into a waterfront community that eventually turned into the retirement community of beth steel AKA Dundalk north.

        Rumsey Island was supposed to be an exclusive neighborhood like gibson island till the wheels fell off that bus and it turned into the junkyard it is today.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
        • Luther Lingus says

          Demise of a Joppatowne:

          #1. Introduction of Mass Transit
          #2. Introduction of low rent apartments
          #3. Introduction of cheap town homes
          #4. Introduction of Section 8 housing

          All lead to

          #1. White flight
          #2. Increased crime
          #3. Major store chains closing
          #4. Decreased property values
          #5. Failing schools

          Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
          • Kharn says

            Busing students from the worst part of Edgewood to Magnolia MS and Joppatowne HS also does not help with the school situation.

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  13. Christopher Boardman says

    Okay, all you shining lights out there who specialize in one line zingers from mostly anonymous enames, and whose main object is to disparage other people who would like to accomplish something, you don’t win my respect or command the respect of others with your negative, hit-and-run tactics. Some of us are trying to have a serious discussion with others in the community about a community issue. The Joppatowne save the pool committee is addressing a serious problem about the future of a key piece of real estate in the middle of Joppatowne. Some of you, in your distortions of others’ positions, and your apparent anger with everybody, have misrepresented a lot of things. I am not going to let your deliberate misrepresentations go uncorrected.

    Let’s talk about taxpayers and government money. If you had read my posts, and I doubt if you have very carefully, I was talking about extra money that may have been collected by the county from Joppatowne residents that could be applied toward purchase of the pool property. Yes, there is still the Joppatowne sewage treatment plant, but Joppatowne is also connected to the Sod Run treatment plant because there is simply too much capacity for the old Joppatowne plant to handle due to the extensive growth in the area. It is my understanding that Joppatowne residents pay for both plants though arguably a single household shouldn’t have to pay for more than one. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t we still pay the $90 a year for the Joppatowne Sanitary Sub-district and also for sewage access and usage fees involved with Sod Run? It is possible that the county owes Joppatowne a good deal of money from over-billing for these services, but they have not corrected or even provided any accounting for this because people are used to paying both ways and usually don’t ask any questions. Joppatowne residents need to have the county do a careful audit to determine how much may have been overpaid over the years and report back to the community. If there is money owed back, originally from our own pockets, the county could refund some of it by helping the community acquire the 4.5 acres in the middle of Joppatowne.

    Even then, if the county continues to collect money from Joppatowne for the Joppatowne Sanitary Sub-district, if a few dollars a month or a year were added to that amount and designated for the pool property, Joppatowne residents could pay for the property WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM ANYONE ELSE. As I pointed out before, 20 years ago if this strategy had been followed the pool property would have been long since paid for and we would not be facing this crisis. The proposal back then would have added $8.50 a month for three years. That is the cost of a lunch out for one or two people for something that would benefit the community long into the future. If your community is not something you are willing to invest in..if not, then why are you buying houses in the community?

    Now, for those of you who love to point fingers at others, back in the 1990′s we went it alone without community wide support or a single penny from the county or the state. All this garbage about big government, you owe me an apology for being so ignorant. But you should also look at the other projects that the county and taxpayers do pay for. Just read my previous post for details. We in Joppatowne are taxpayers too so we do have a right to make some demands on our government.
    As for Mariner Point Park, that is enjoyed by people throughout the county and beyond. It is not our fault that most of the waterfront in the county is taken up by the U.S. Army at Aberdeen and Edgewood. This park at least gives many people a great access to the Chesapeake Bay waterway, as do a few other places not on federal property. Back in the late 1970′s Bob Roddy was president of the Joppatowne Rec Council and I was secretary and we were members of the capital budget committee for the recreation councils in the county. Bob and I and Bill Nicodemus from the Parks and Recreation Department procured the initial monies for Mariner Point Park from Program Open Space, a state program. The park remains one of the really good things that was done with taxpayer money for the general public.

    I hope that others will give these matters the serious consideration that they deserve, that people who desire to lead in the community will join in and those who have nothing but negative and disparaging things to say will be more thoughtful.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
    • BillH says

      Chris, get a business plan written, go to your bank ,borrow the money and reopen the pool for the people. We are only talking $679,500 that’s a steal dude, you could literally make hundreds of dollars.

      Maybe if you are lucky the county will also give you some of this “extra money” they have that you refer too…..

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3
    • Bulldoze the Pool says

      Please go away and stop replying.

      Why are people buying houses in the community? because it’s in their price range, and where they want to live. Are you retarded?

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  14. Old Skool says

    I just found out Friday night the real reason they want the County to take over the pool is because the Church seeking to buy it is an inner city church from Baltimore and the brother’s want to build a mega church on the land.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  15. Bulldoze the Pool says

    The quote from the reply, Some of us are trying to have a serious discussion with others in the community about a community issue

    Where? Here? I don’t see any except for this one guys book report replies.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3
  16. Von Rumpert says

    I LOL’d at the ” mostly anonymous enames.” Considering we are on the internet? Message board? Yep, sounds about norm to me. Go to your community meetings in Sanfords basement if you want people to pretend serious.

    No doubt you’ll spend another hour of your life typing up 6 more paragraphs.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  17. jealous says

    We really do have enough a55ho!es in Harford County to fill two more counties! Lucky us!!!!! Is there a serious, private Joppatowne-only discussion board that excludes the selfish mofos who populate the rest of the county?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  18. jealous says

    And while I am in a snit, why is Cunnion Field such a pig sty? Trash everywhere and condoms in the parking lot. Lovely place to take the kids to learn how to ride their new bikes.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  19. jokey and the spandit says

    Underwater Playground between Edgewood and Joppatowne had a large indoor pool you could swim at, fees applicable most likely.

    That business has since closed in late 2011.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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