Chairman’s Update – August 5, 2015

Attendees: Melynda Wilcox, Laura Fries, Carolyn Griglione, Jeanne Garner, Taryn Brice-Rowland, Bill Rivers

Guest: Laura Durham (DRPCA)

Bill opened the meeting with an apology from Allyson Teevan from DASH. She was scheduled to attend, but had some complications from a medical procedure that precluded her from being there. She did send a written report, which Bill summarized for the Board:

  • While concrete numbers are not available right now, DASH drivers have reported ridership increasing with over 200 riders a day during the free bus hours.
  • There will be a free pool day on Saturday, August 29th. Anyone can swim at Old Town free of charge. This day is provided thanks to the generous donations that went beyond the cost of the bus service. DASH is working with vendors for a moon bounce and an ice cream truck.
  • The Sponsor Appreciation Party will be Friday, September 11th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. DASH is also working with a caterer for food at that event. In addition to sponsors, DASH bus drivers and their families will be invited (along with the AAA Board).
  • New ads will be run in the Zebra, Alexandria Times, and Alexandria Gazette including info about the free swim day.
  • DASH held a transit fair at the Old Town pool on July 31st – good reception and a lot of excitement about the free bus service. They’ll hold another one at the pool on Tuesday, August 18th. At that one, they’ll collect school supplies for kids going back to school. There will be other transit fairs throughout the City, including one at First Thursday this month.
  • Allyson offered us meeting space at DASH headquarters for September’s meeting. Also mentioned that DASH’s Board of Directors will be meeting on September 9th and will discuss the bus program. She’ll provide feedback to us.
  • DASH is looking for new ideas about how we can work together. Bill asked the Board to think about that and be ready to discuss at the September meeting.

After reading Allyson’s message, there was a discussion of how the free bus program was going. We all agreed that the concept was great, but it’s hard to pin down exact numbers to see how many swimmers are benefitting from it. While it’s good to provide a benefit for all riders, our going-in posture was to help kids get to the Old Town pool to swim. We will evaluate that after the program is over and we have better numbers. It was understandable that we would start slowly with the new program, but we hope to see increases as August progresses.

After the bus discussion, Laura Durham then briefed the Board on the status of City efforts on aquatics.

Warwick:

  • The geotechnical work has been done, as well as the ADA assessment of the building and surrounding area.
  • She expects the report of findings towards the end of August. Mostly concerned about what to do with the building. There are funds available for the pool, but funding may be stretched to do the necessary work on the building.

Chinquapin:

  • The geotechnical work has been going on at Chinquapin as well. The results of that are crucial to help determine which cost estimates to use for the groundwork involved with the new pool.
  • The City expects that Hughes will provide an initial report by the fall that will show a reduced cost for a brick and mortar building. Depending upon how low that goes, it may be acceptable and efforts can focus on that option. However, if the cost estimate is still not acceptable, then Hughes will look at other options/building alternatives.
  • The last option to consider is to close the existing aquatic facility and expand the current pool to 50 meters. This is not desirable from a user or an operator’s perspective, but may be necessary due to costs.

Arlington:

  • Laura wanted the Board to be aware that this year’s periodic Needs Assessment being done by the City will include a question as to whether Alexandrians want to share a 50 meter pool with Arlington and travel to the Long Bridge site if Alexandrians received Arlington resident rates.
  • This is being done following discussions between City Council and City staff with their peers in Arlington. Arlington will also be asking their residents how they feel about allowing Alexandrians use of the Long Bridge facility at local rates.
  • Bill will make sure that we alert all AAA members to the survey question. Laura D. will provide it to Bill electronically.
  • The general consensus was that this was expected since we asked for the original contact with Arlington. However, the Board is not in favor of dropping our 50-meter pool for use of the Long Bridge facility. Bill mentioned that it was more likely that the Board would favor a shared use of a therapy pool than the 50 meter one.

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Laura said that there had been no further word from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority about the Cameron Run pool. She will let us know if she hears anything.
  • Melynda pointed out that there was an opening for a citizen member on the Park Authority’s Board if anyone from AAA was interested.
  • Laura also mentioned that the Mount Vernon Recreational Facility in Fairfax County was asking for ideas about redoing their facility.

Bill thanked Laura for her presentation. He then mentioned that some Board members had met with John Ireland from Myrtha last week and that he had a discussion with Stu Isaac (aquatic consultant) this week. Based upon these discussions and the Board’s ongoing skepticism about Hughes fully evaluating all viable alternatives, AAA was proposing that they come up with a list of alternative structures, the building material, examples of where the pools were built, and their costs to provide to the City for forwarding to Hughes in their study of alternatives. Bill stressed that this wasn’t being uncomfortable with the City staff – it was directly geared towards a feeling of unease about Hughes. Several members of the Board echoed Bill’s comments and said that we wanted to work in a positive manner with the City as part of the process rather than getting in an argument after the report is completed.

Laura D. expressed a concern that there wasn’t enough money in the Hughes contract to have them look at an unlimited number of options, but she agreed that the idea had merit if the range of options could be narrowed down. Of course, all of this is predicated on what the Hughes report says about a scaled back brick and mortar building.

Bill indicated that AAA wanted to provide the info to Laura by the end of August, which should work with the Hughes timeline of a report in September.

At that point, the discussions turned to internal AAA matters and Laura D. left.

Melynda briefed the Board on the Large Donor Package being put together by our graphic designer. She showed examples of the pages that will be included in the package and what the redesigned logo would look like. After clarifying that we would still be using the existing pamphlet for event distribution and for small donors, there was general agreement on the work being done. Melynda emphasized that the package would be focused on the top 50 donors and geared to ones that had corporate offices outside of Alexandria.

Carolyn briefed the Board on the status of the Family Fun Nights. She is working on the fall schedule and will be talking to Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools (both of whom have shown an interest in participating), the Alexandria Country Day School (again, another interested party), as well as the elementary schools that have participated previously. Once that schedule is finalized, we will post it on our website.

Bill asked anyone interested in ordering an “Alexandria Aquatics” polo shirt to get in touch with him. They are $23 each.

Melynda discussed the Fall Day of Giving and whether AAA should participate. Unlike other events, this is more a collection of needed items rather than asking for cash donations. Since our needs are more focused on the dollar side, the Board decided not to participate. Melynda will let Amanda know since she was working on it also.

Bill will check on tracking the number of people using our website. He’ll report back to the Board what he finds out.

We still haven’t seen any volunteers other than Board members at the Old Town and Chinquapin tables that we have set up. Bill will see about setting up sign-ups for the Free Swim Day at Old Town and Saturday mornings in the fall at Chinquapin. After a month or so, we will re-evaluate this effort.

The September Board meeting will be after Labor Day. Bill will send out some suggestions to the Board for a possible meeting date. It is anticipated that the meeting would be at the DASH headquarters.

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