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CountrySide Pools to Remain Closed for the 2020 Season
A motion “to open two pools as soon as is practicable” was defeated by a vote of 2 “Yes” and 4 “No” votes
This was not an easy decision to make and there were strong differences of opinion on both sides of the issue on the Facilities Committee, which could not reach a unanimous decision, and the Board of Directors. But as Jefferson said, “every difference of opinion is not a difference in principle.” The health and safety of CountrySide residents was the primary concern to all the volunteers involved and many factors were considered in making this decision.
Phase 3 guidelines say that “swimming pools may be open at up to 75% occupancy, if applicable, provided ten feet of physical distance may be maintained between patrons not of the same household”. Applying the “10 feet of distancing” requirement, given the square footage of our pools, CountrySide would have had to operate at about 25% of normal capacities. With scheduled down times every two hours for the required cleaning, we would have been able to accommodate less than 5% of the estimated CountrySide population at the pools on any given day. We extensively researched the operating procedures that would be required under Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia plan. The costs of compliance was estimated at approximately $13,000-$14,000 per month per pool, which included the purchase of hand sanitizer dispensers, employing a professional cleaning service to perform enhanced cleaning procedures, the hiring of a security firm to monitor the mandated social distancing and to conduct the necessary screening, the purchase of signage to instruct and inform pool patrons on the State of Virginia guidelines, and the ongoing replenishment of supplies. The cost of compliance, which could have been covered in the existing pool management budget from the more than $30,000 in savings from not opening the pools prior to this time, to serve such a limited number of residents was raised as a concern by a member of the Board.
We consulted our legal counsel and insurance agents on the question of liability risk, both of whom advised extreme caution. While many residents suggested the use of liability waivers to protect the Proprietary, our attorney informed us that in Virginia, one cannot waive personal injury in advance. Likewise, our insurance was unlikely to provide all the necessary coverage against claims resulting from a pandemic.
We know this is disappointing, but please understand that the decision was not made lightly. The Board, the FAC, and the PMP staff devoted hundreds of hours exploring the requirements and our options to try to make it possible to open the pools safely. Although the decision was not unanimous, a majority of the Board ultimately decided that while Virginia has made strides in its attempts to contain the spread of the virus, the resurgence of the virus in communities both local and in other states is of ongoing concern. Even if we took all precautions advised by the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, there is no way we could guarantee the protection of our residents against this insidious disease.
The pools will be maintained as necessary to protect these valuable assets for future use, and while this is still a current ongoing expense, there will be some savings realized from the pool closures. The Board is evaluating the best way to refund these savings to property owners.
The CountrySide Board of Directors
CountrySide Proprietary | 2 Pidgeon Hill Drive, Suite 560, Sterling, VA 20165 | p: 703.430.0715 | f: 703.430.8094