Chairman’s Update – August 13, 2015

Group: There are several things to bring you up to date on, but I want to focus on the primary one right now – you may have seen in the paper or on the Internet – Arlington and Alexandria are exploring whether to share an aquatics facility.

Each jurisdiction will be surveying its residents to see what the interest level would be. The questioning would be focused on a large aquatic facility in Arlington (the Long Bridge Facility) and whether Alexandria residents would travel there to use it in lieu of a new multi-use 50-meter pool at Chinquapin. It would involve Alexandria helping fund the Arlington facility and not building the new pool at Chinquapin.

First, it’s great to have a public discussion like this. It brings good visibility to the entire aquatics situation. And the AAA Board thinks that there could be the potential for shared services with Arlington. But not at the expense of our multi-use 50-meter pool. There is too much of a need for a large pool in Alexandria – if we want all school kids to learn to swim in Alexandria, it would be counterproductive to bus them to a facility outside the City. For the TC swim team – as well as for Bishop Ireton and St. Stephens/St. Agnes, it would not make sense to ride a bus past Chinquapin to practice and have meets outside the City.

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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.

Chairman’s Update – July 9, 2015

Group: Hope all of you are enjoying the summer – and hopefully enjoying it at a pool!

A lot of good things are happening in aquatics so I thought I would give you a mid-summer update:

  • First, please visit our website – alexandriaaquatics.com – it has changed significantly from its previous self. More pictures; more videos; more interesting facts; more up to date information; more everything. We have made a conscious effort to make it a state of the art site with the most current news. Some of the updates below will be summarized and you can see more about them on the website. Also please let me know if you have any ideas to further improve the site.
  • The combined efforts of AAA, the City, and the DASH bus system has made possible free bus service to the Old Town pool from the areas affected by the closure of Warwick this summer. Please see the website for much more, but all of AAA should be pleased to have made this possible. It’s a first in Alexandria. And just to check it out, I rode the free bus (the AT10 route) to and from the Old Town pool today! No problems.
  • The work on the new pool at Warwick has started! Soil testing has begun along with an assessment of the repairs needed to the existing building. This will lead to design plans and community input into the new pool anticipated at Warwick. The new pool should be a reality there by the end of 2016. See the City’s notice of testing on the website.
  • Along with the good news at Warwick, there is also progress at Chinquapin. The soil testing and geological work will begin there next week. This is crucial to determine the cost of the 50-meter pool there. The consultant should have a revised cost estimate by this fall.
  • The highly successful Family Fun Nights at Chinquapin will continue through the summer. The next one is scheduled for Friday, July 17th and will feature Mount Vernon Elementary School. But remember – everyone is welcome along with the students of Mount Vernon.
  • We will be adding a volunteer sign-up tool to the website by this weekend. We will use the Sign-up Genius application to allow any of you to sign-up for volunteer work to help out AAA and overall aquatics in Alexandria. We are starting with a volunteer table at the Old Town pool on Saturdays for 2 hours (12:00 to 2:00) to inform swimmers about aquatic developments in the City (basically things like this update) and to recruit new members for AAA. We’d like to have as many of you AAA members volunteer as possible as we try out this web application. If it works well, we will see about expanding it to other items. If you get a chance, Jeanne and I will be at Old Town this weekend to kick things off. Come on by and say hello!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks, Bill

Chairman’s Update – June 25, 2015

Group: Just wanted you to know that your organization has been working hard. Carolyn has spearheaded an effort to get Alexandria involved in the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Program – designed to help kids learn to swim with particular emphasis on minority kids. The City and the Potomac Marlins are our partners in that effort.

To help kick it off, we decided to try to hook it up with an effort to get kids from the closed Warwick pool area over to swim at the Old Town pool this summer. After much discussion with the Mayor, the City staff, and the Alexandria Transit Authority (the DASH system), we arrived at a plan to provide free bus service between the affected areas and the Old Town pool for July and August. To do that we needed to raise $15,000 to offset lost revenue for DASH during the service hours. That was accomplished in one week’s time due to the generosity of Alexandria businesses and other organizations (including $1,000 from AAA and another $1,000 from the Warwick Village Citizens Association).

The bus route selected – the AT10 – goes from Potomac Yards through Arlandria, Warwick, Del Ray, and Rosemont to the King Street Metro (a couple of minute walk from the pool). The free service hours are from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday and 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. To make it as easy as possible for riders and for DASH to administer, we elected to have all riders use the bus for free during those hours. That means that all residents in the affected areas can use that bus route to do a number of things – get to and from the pool, use the Duncan Library, visit shops in Del Ray, travel to Metro, get to the stores at Potomac Yards, etc. We felt that would make it a little easier to raise the funds needed.

There will be a kick-off event on Tuesday, June 30th, at 11:00 am at the Old Town pool with the Mayor formally announcing the program. Everyone in AAA is invited if you have the time.

Chairman’s Update – June 3, 2015

Bill began the meeting with several updates:

  • The City has started the process for the soil testing at both Warwick and Chinquapin.
  • Laura Durham, our contact with the City, has been assigned to work on the Patrick Henry Recreation Center project this month. She will continue on the aquatics project while helping with Patrick Henry.
  • We made the news twice: AAA was mentioned in Council Member Justin Wilson’s newsletter and also in Mayor Euille’s Today show broadcast with Laura Durham and Ralph Baird. Both were positive mentions.
  • The Make a Splash Program continues to progress. Carolyn updated the Board regarding the first progress report that was submitted. She offered some statistics that she and the City had developed showing more than 9,000 registrants for swimming lessons from January 1 through the start of June, with 77 of those being scholarship recipients.
  • Bill added an update on the meeting with the City and DASH about bus service to the Old Town pool. DASH is considering offering free bus service to all riders on the AT10 route (through Arlandria, Warwick, and Del Ray to the Old Town Metro) during July and August between the hours of 9:30 and 3:30.  This would allow swimmers and their families free transportation to the Old Town pool, as well as letting others enjoy the bus for other trips. DASH is evaluating any possible lost revenue, while Bill checked with the Del Ray Business Association about a possible sponsorship to make up for the lost revenue (DRBA may be receptive to a request for $5,000).  Hopefully, a decision will be made next week so we can get a notice out to ACPS families before the end of the school year.
  • Melynda and Bill met with School Board Memeber Chris Lewis. He is concerned that the permanent closing of the Ewald pool in the proposed Ewald park plan leaves the West End with no public pools. After considerable discussion, Chris requested that AAA include a West End pool in its goals. We explained that there was no money for such a pool and we were focused on our other priorities first. But we agreed that we would present the idea of mentioning a West End pool as a goal if Chris could introduce a School Board resolution in support of adding learn-to-swim to the elementary P.E. curriculum as soon as there is pool space available to accommodate that. The Board agreed to include “a long range vision” of a West End pool in our description of AAA goals.

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Chairman’s Update – May 13, 2015

Bill Rivers began the meeting by briefing the Board on three recent meetings/events:

  • The City Council passed the FY 2016 budget for the City with its associated 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). FY 2017 of the CIP includes $2.3 million for a new pool at Warwick and FY 2017 and FY 2018 include approximately $20 million for Chinquapin (plus our $2.5 million contribution in FY 2018).  In the discussion on the budget, the City also confirmed that there was $150,000 in the FY 2015 budget to start work on Warwick.
  • Carolyn and Bill are meeting with the City staff and DASH bus officials about how to transport kids from the closed Warwick pool area to Old Town this summer.
  • There was a meeting with the Potomac Marlins, City staff and AAA regarding a cover for the Old Town pool to make it a year round venue.  It was estimated that it would cost about $ 1million to do that (including winterizing the bathhouse, adding pool heaters, etc.). The Marlins felt that they could generate revenue for the City through use of the pool, but that they didn’t have any start-up capital to contribute. Further discussions will be held with the company that does pool enclosures (particularly structured membranes), but there is no active plan to convert Old Town at this point.

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