La Plata – The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has announced its willingness to engage in ongoing discussions with state and county leaders to find a viable solution for addressing the community’s interest in having an aquatic facility in Charles County. This development comes after CSM permanently closed its La Plata Campus indoor pool in March 2021.

CSM President, Dr. Yolanda Wilson, stated that they have been attentive to the community’s questions about the pool’s status and are pleased to provide updates on the continuous conversations with multiple stakeholders. The discussions about reopening the La Plata Campus pool were initiated in November 2022, before Dr. Wilson’s tenure as president. In January 2023, CSM’s leadership team continued these talks with the Southern Maryland Delegation and Charles County Board of County Commissioners members to address the challenges associated with reopening the 50-year-old pool.

The conversations were supplemented by a comprehensive feasibility study that explored three reopening proposals. One of the options involved repairing the existing pool, while the other two proposed repairing and expanding the facility. The study revealed 19 areas of safety concern, including significant cracking in the pool shell plaster, expired drains, and the need for replacements of the circulation pump and chlorinator system. An estimated $2.4 million investment would be required to address these issues and undertake necessary renovations. However, if the decision were made to expand the pool into a more modern facility capable of accommodating the needs of a diverse and growing community, the capital costs could escalate to almost $18 million. Moreover, the ongoing operating costs are projected to range between $350,000 to $500,000 per year, depending on the type of facility and its community usage.

CSM expressed appreciation for the $1 million funding allocated through a legislative bond initiated by Sen. Arthur Ellis as part of House Bill 201 during the last legislative session. Following the allocation, college leaders met with Ellis, Delegate Edith Patterson, Charles County Commissioner President Reuben Collins, Commissioner Thomasina Coates, and representatives from Charles County Recreation, Parks & Tourism Department to discuss the funding’s intent.

Dr. Wilson clarified CSM’s stance: “The repair and continued operation of the pool require a multi-million-dollar investment, and it is a venture that CSM cannot afford nor sustain.” She acknowledged that elected officials had committed to exploring all available options and pledged to update CSM on their progress. The college welcomed the officials’ willingness to collaborate and keep them informed of their intentions.

The closure of the La Plata Campus indoor pool was part of a broader measure taken in March 2020 when all CSM campus buildings were closed due to the global pandemic. Subsequently, a comprehensive building assessment was conducted in spring 2021, highlighting major repair, maintenance, and safety issues with the pool and identifying the need to replace most of the PE Building’s HVAC system, upgrade critical electrical systems, and install a new roof.

Over the past two years, significant renovations have been undertaken in the PE Building to support CSM’s student-athletes and coaching staff participating in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference and the National Junior College Athletic Association. These athletic programs include women’s basketball, softball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as men’s baseball, basketball, soccer, and golf.

CSM remains committed to exploring viable solutions for an aquatic facility in Charles County while recognizing the financial constraints and safety concerns associated with reopening the La Plata Campus indoor pool. Continued conversations with state and county leaders will determine the best course of action that aligns with the community’s needs and aspirations.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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