Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kings Forest Pool is a Big Decision

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A linchpin in the revitalization of Kings Forest is the decision to keep, reduce operations, or close the pool. While we're not able to quantify with any statistical accuracy, we hear enough debate among residents to merit a review of the pros and cons.

First, let's consider the costs associated with the pool, which currently represent more than 30 percent of the yearly budget, according to Treasurer Bob Braun. Approximately $18,000 goes to pay for lifeguards. (Numbers change as overall expenses fluctuate.)

Weighed against the perceived lack of use -- and lack of money to do the community repairs that need to be done -- many are in favor of moving to key access, or closing it. As the pool surfacing is approximately six years old, those in favor of closing the pool cite the upcoming expense of resurfacing it in a few years.

Second, the usage, which has not increased over the years, while costs have risen for lifeguards and maintenance. Many criticize the pool for its lack of amenities that appeal to families with kids, who prefer to go to other neighborhood pools. In addition, 54 percent of Kings Forest homes have their own pools.

Third, the real estate value associated with having the pool and concerns that sellers will be disadvantaged. Kingwood Lakes has not had a pool and properties have continued to increase in value, while Kings Forest homes have not.

Fourth, deed or covenant restrictions against changing use of the land currently dedicated to the pool and the pool building. This was investigated by Bob Braun and Tom Wussow, and reported that our covenants only stipulate that it be used for recreational purposes. These factors are not in favor of the pool.

On the other hand, there are residents, obviously, who do enjoy the pool, so the key access option is certainly preferable. Another option would be to find an alternate place to swim. The board has mentioned in meetings that it could approach the Kingwood Country Club for a special arrangement for Kings Forest residents.

Granted, if we were able to raise sufficient funds to pay for the improvements discussed by the Revitalization Committee, we wouldn't have to consider reducing costs associated with the pool.

Removing the pool will not be cheap. And we'll need professional help to design an alternate use for the land that is more useful to residents.

Before the board can make any decision, however, it must poll our residents to determine what they want. Being able to offer them an alternate plan would be optimal, as it's difficult to vote to remove something without having a plan for what will replace it.