I was frustrated watching the recent St. Mary’s County commissioners’ meeting related to the new YMCA.

Commissioner Eric Colvin (R) suggested the YMCA consider building the facility without the indoor pool due to the proximity to the existing county-owned pool. I have a totally different “suggestion.” How about the YMCA consider building the facility for two pools — one for competition and one for therapeutics and lessons?

I love the Great Mills pool but it was designed for summer use only. Currently, the pool is covered by a pressurized bubble in the winter. The operational costs to keep the pressure and the pool heated I’m sure are sizable. The bubble structure also has black mold on the cover and the noise generated by the constant fan is overwhelming.

In summer, there is a tremendous demand for the pool between recreational use, lap swimmers and swim teams. In late summer, Great Mills pool reaches temperatures of over 94 degrees. Ideally, the pool should have had shading and an aerator. Shading installation may be impeded by the need to assemble and disassemble the bubble.

I suggest maybe that the Great Mills pool go back to being a summer only pool when a new pool is built. Maybe you could get a grant by SMECO and install solar panels on the new shade structure to mitigate energy operational costs?

There are few competition pools in St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s pool is used for swim team practices and meets, but has severely limited community access. The College of Southern Maryland pool has limited capability to host meets. Both of these pools are in high demand during the winter high school swim season and in the summer.

Ideally, a pool that is designed for swim practice, other organizations like scuba and meets should be located in St. Mary’s. The swim teams that practice at Great Mills pool contribute over half of the rental revenue. If an actual competition pool was located in Southern Maryland, we could host multiple meets where the surrounding community would benefit from swimmers and their families eating out at our restaurants and using our lodging in St. Mary’s.

The pool for therapeutics and swim lessons is also a significant need. The proposed YMCA location would be ideal for community members to access. St. Mary’s is surrounded on three sides with water and it should be imperative that residents have the ability to be comfortable in the water. The pool was an oasis of sanity during the COVID-19 lockdown, being used by community members for health and wellness. A warm-water pool would increase pool usage.

This is the opportunity to get the right aquatic facilities for St. Mary’s County. It’s significantly more cost effective to install a pool when the other parts of the building are being constructed. The pool itself is the least of the expense. The Myrtha pool (temporary structure) that hosted the Olympic time trials was sold for a little over a million once the time trials were over.

When the commissioners assigned a task force to look into the YMCA, I assumed that a person from the competitive swim community would be represented, since over 500 community swimmers participate and contribute so much to pool revenue. I know I submitted an application to be a member and never heard back.

I am looking forward to St. Mary’s supporting a YMCA that meets the needs of the community.