Columbia Association aquatics programs have been integral to our community for over 40 years. That is why CA has initiated an Aquatics Master Plan to make sure our facilities serve the community for the near- and long-term.
The Aquatics Master Plan will document existing conditions; assess the future needs of residents and other users of Columbia aquatics venues and programs; and make recommendations for future investments in aquatics venues and associated programs.
CA is sharing its analysis and working documents with the Aquatics Master Plan Task Force, who are providing guidance to CA on the plan and planning process. To review recent work products, meeting notes and more, please review the task force materials.
Master Plan Goals
Engage the Columbia community in an inclusive process to plan for the future of Columbia's aquatics program;
Provide a framework for Columbia aquatic facilities that balances current and future community needs given changing demographics and resource constraints; and
Establish implementation priorities for the future of Columbia aquatics.
Existing Conditions and Trends
Columbia Association aquatic facilities, programs, and services are distinguishing features of our community. As part of a wide range of facilities and services, CA operates 23 outdoor swimming pools including two mini-WaterParks; four indoor swimming pools; and a hot water therapy pool.
While participation in aquatics is high for Columbia as a whole, some outdoor pools have low usage - with as few as 50 visitors a day on average.
Built and upgraded over 40 years, Columbia's inventory of aquatics facilities are aging and require investment to continue to offer programs and amenities that meet user expectations.
By 2030, the population of Columbia and Howard County is expected to continue to increase although at a slower rate than in the past four decades. Projections also anticipate a more diverse population with continued growth of Hispanic non-whites, African Americans, and Asian Americans. On age characteristics, projections from the Maryland Department of Planning for Howard County in 2030 estimate the largest percentage increase of the Howard County population will be those aged 65 and above.
The projections also estimate that the major age cohorts or groupings are expected to continue to even out. That means, as compared to the 1970s when there was an age pyramid with more of the population focused at the lower end of the age spectrum and fewer older adults, by 2030 all the major age cohorts -- 19 years old and younger; 20-44; 45-64; and 65 and over - will look more like an irregular tree trunk than a pyramid.
What these demographic changes mean for planning for the future of recreational facilities, including aquatics, is that there will be even more demand and need for facilities that respond to our diverse population characteristics. To understand and respond to these and other trends, the Columbia Association is undertaking a master plan to set the framework for future capital investments and programs to keep our aquatics program strong and to make sure investments are made wisely.
CA is continuing its efforts from the aquatics Master Plan process to look into what changes should be made to CA's aquatics facilities and programming in order to best serve area residents into the future. One of the recommendations was to conduct two feasibility studies, one looking at SplashDown, which is reaching the end of its useful life, and the second on creating more indoor pool space at a current outdoor pool site. CA encourages community participation in meetings to discuss and share findings from the studies, and discuss possible options.
The CA Board of Directors Accepted and Filed the Aquatics Master Plan on June 14, 2012.
May 21, 2012 Revised Draft
A revised draft Aquatics Master Plan based on the CA Board of Directors-approved policy statements is available for review. It retains all 23 outdoor pools. We also have provided a Guide to Substantial Changes, which highlights the substantial changes from the January draft. The plan is on the Board's agenda for June 14.
Drop-in Session - Nov 19, 2011- Young Families:
On Nov 19, 2011, we continued our civic engagement opportunities by holding an informal, drop-in session - focused on young families' interests. It was held at the Columbia Swim Center, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia 21044
October Public Meetings:
Approximately 100 community members attended two CA-hosted public meetings on October 11 and 12, 2011. If you were unable to attend or want to see the presentation again, please view the presentation here. It includes information on pool and user data and trends; results of a scan of national aquatics trends; a review of public involvement so far; and an overview of alternatives for the future.
Aquatics Commenting Tool:
CA developed the Aquatics Commenting Tool (ACT) to provide another way to contribute, be part of the process, and share ideas with CA and other community members about desired improvements to our pools. From mid-July through September 15,2011, ACT's pool-specific commenting feature allowed users to express ideas about desired improvements for the future of Columbia's aquatics and allowed for real-time sharing of comments. We received a total of almost 200 comments. View these for yourself in this complete listing of posted comments. Thanks to all who commented and visited the ACT site. While the site is now closed to new comments, it is still available for viewing.
One-time small group discussions called focus groups were held this summer and the comments and ideas discussed are very interesting. To find out what was said, please read the notes of these one-time discussion groups below.
Kick-off Workshops were held at the end of March, 2011. There was a presentation on the history of aquatics, demographics and pool trend information in Columbia.
There was a presentation on the history of aquatics, demographics, and pool trend information in Columbia, followed by a Q&A session and small group discussions to share ideas and identify desired enhancements to CA aquatics.
It is important that the community help identify needs, potential solutions, and issues of concern. Public workshops and focus groups will be held at key points over the duration of the study. If you wish to stay connected about the public meeting schedule, feel free to email or follow us on Facebook.
Aquatics Master Plan Task Force
CA has established an Aquatics Master Plan Task Force that is providing guidance to the Columbia Association as it develops the master plan. It is comprised of community members representing the diversity of the aquatics community and stakeholder groups.
Civic Engagement Goals
Provide realistic expectations of what an Aquatics Master Plan will and will not include, the opportunities it presents and how it will be implemented.
Provide meaningful opportunities for residents and stakeholder involvement in the process.
Reach and involve residents and stakeholders through a number of different avenues and approaches.
The planning process and associated timeline are shown on the process diagram (.pdf). Next steps in the process include: