Pool Condition

As we have worked through the master plan process a number of members have questioned the condition and likely longevity of our pool.  To obtain a clear view on this a number of activities were undertaken.

  • The pool was drained and cleaned and detailed reviews were undertaken independently by three pool teams:
    • Our Architect Dave Almy and Mark Wilkinson the president of Paddock Pools conducted the first study which was done on site of the pool with a number of members of the design committee and our pool contractor – Bethesda Aquatics.  The result of this assessment is attached along with a number of photographs which were taken by Dave Almy.
    • Marty Gates (VP Construction of American Pool) independently conducted a review of the pool along with Sue Silverstein of our board and design committee.
    • Brian Nordyke (Nordyke Design Group – Structural Engineering) conducted a third assessment of the pool.  Brian is an independent engineer and his review also was consistent with those of the pool teams. 

  • Highlights of the feedback are provided below
    • For a 50 year old pool both groups agreed it is in good shape.   Dave Almy suggested it was the best he has seen of this age.   We can thank our pool leadership and the pool maintenance companies (Bethesda Aquatics etc.) for their excellent work.
    • Dave and Mark suggested a number of maintenance improvements which were subsequently undertaken by Bethesda Aquatics.
    • While none of the evaluations put a specific date on the longevity, they indicated this pool would likely last a number additional years if it continues to be aggressively maintained.  (When the question was asked specifically Mark, Dave and Brian were all comfortable with 5 years, and none of the three would place any bets beyond 10 years.)
    • However, while it will last in the current configuration, Mark, Dave, and Brian all thought it is too old to be renovated and expanded without being replaced. They recommended that if (or when) we want to add swimming lanes or bring the diving well up to code we should not risk trying to renovate a pool of this age.  At that time it should be replaced.
    • A number of more minor issues were identified.
      • The crack in the wall between the middle and main pools appears to be a place where on-going work will be needed.  (This crack is identified in our history above.)
      • A few of the top tiles show some wear.  Hallow sounding top tiles and some cracks exist on the cooping stones.
      • Both pool joints are showing wear.  These are likely causes of some of our leakage.
      • A number of Leak-thru’s are identified in the diving well.
      • The whitecoat is showing some deterioration.
      • BETHESDA AQUANTICS initiated repairs before refilling the pool.
  • While the pool itself is in good shape, Dave and Mark were more concerned about other adjacent parts of our facility.
  • They were concerned about the poor condition of the existing cement deck supported by block walls.  Dave estimated the life of the deck at 3-5 years and any plan to keep it longer should involve a detailed review by an engineer.
  • Brian Nordyke (the structural engineer) went further on the cement deck, and indicated that it should be immediately shored up as the wear on the reinforced concrete is significant enough to allow for the possibility of collapse.
  • Both Dave and Mark were equally concerned with the condition of the filter room. This is adjacent to and under the old cement deck.  While the equipment itself is in good shape the room is not in good shape.  While it is not going to fail, it should be addressed if the deck is addressed before the main pool.
  • Dave and Mark also looked at the potential of adding a lap pool in the back section of the fenced about where the ping pong tables are currently located.  They indicated it could not fit in that section without moving out to the road as the code requires a 75 foot setback from the neighboring property line.  As such any additional lap pool would require site work that would exceed the cost of the pool and would clearly effect mature trees on our property.
  • Mark also looked at the plans that Dave had previously drafted for replacing the pool in the master plan.  He looked at the hill and slope, and he indicated a new expanded pool would fit as Dave had indicated in his first draft Master Plan
  • Marty Gates recommended that we replace the whitecoat of the existing pool. He also indicated some concern for what may be holding the existing pool in place.  Specifically he speculated that some type of pilings or caissons may be under the pool, and that they may add cost to a replacement effort if and when it is undertaken.

As part of the effort the design committee also sought to get a general lifespan for a pool such as ours.  Chuck Montrie (Bethesda Aquatics) and also Maryland Parks and Planning, Dave Almy and Mark Wilkinson all put the typical lifespan of a pool such as ours at 30-50 years. I asked them if there was any hard evidence on this topic, and they all indicated we could look to other pools in our area to get a sense of their life.   The good news here is that our pool appears to be an outlier on the longevity side.  That said it is clearly in the late stages of its life.

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