After years of grassroots efforts, hearings and membership drives, the board of the Towson Swim Club voted Tuesday night to terminate the pool project.
Josh Glikin, a West Towson resident and member of the swim club's board, said the pool signed only 35 to 40 members during a month-long membership drive, for a total of 220 to 225 members, far short of the 315 the board required by Feb. 29 to receive financing on the project.
"Any time you put so much time and effort into something like this only to have it not succeed, it's a big disappointment," said Glikin. "There are many members of our board who donated their professional time, resources, countless hours, not only over the past month and a half but over the past four years or so to try to make this work."
The pool would have been built at the corner of Towsontown Boulevard and Bosley Avenue, near the site of a former county jail, on land to be leased from the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.
Members who had already signed up will get all of their money back at a later date, Glikin said, though the details have not yet been worked out as the swim club closes its financial books. The 17 board members who spent $60,000 of their own money on design, legal and other fees, however, will never have their costs refunded.
The swim club project has roots going back as far as 2006, when a group of West Towson and Southland Hills residents asked the county about leasing some of the former jail property following its demolition. By 2009, according to a Towson Times article, the swim club was nearly halfway to its goal of 400 members and was planned to open in time for Memorial Day 2010.
A slowing economy, however, caused some members to back out and caused some prospective members to reconsider. The swim club board asked for extensions on its agreement with the county in 2010 and 2011. The board considered negotiating another extention, but the membership drive fell far short.
"I think the economy is really what did this in. They seemed to have a lot of momentum going into 2008, and that's when the economy just collapsed," said County Councilman David Marks.
"I think any time a community works hard for something and it doesn't succeed is going to be very disappointing and it must be heartbreaking for volunteers who put so much energy into this," Marks said.
The project also faced challenges from some Southland Hills residents, who took issue with original swim club plans that would have leveled a patch of trees and brush that neighbors called the "green ravine."
The swim club revised its plans following a 2010 hearing. The ravine area would be protected from future development under a rezoning proposal by Marks. He doubts that another developer will want to build on the swim club site.
"I think what is there now will remain there," Marks said.
Though the pool project didn't pan out, Glikin said the meetings, open houses and membership drives over the last four years were not a total loss.
"I think the best we can say is thank you," he said. "[Neighbors] shared our vision and saw the benefits to them personally of having the pool in the neighborhood and that's the type of thing that I hope won't be limited to just a pool project."