Here we are in the cold depths of February. As I write this, the wind is howling outside my window, and Accuweather tells me that the temperature is 10 degrees with a wind chill of -19. Swimming and sunning by the pool seem far away indeed.
Even so, I wanted to give you an update on the project, and ask for your help.
There are three main things left to be done, along with a number of more minor things. Many can be done in parallel, i.e., without one depending on the other.
The main things are: (1) get the electricity hooked up and the elevator installed; (2) get the site ready; and (3) get the pool’s “white coat” done.
The minor things include finishing the fencing (around the baby pool and elsewhere), putting in the railing on the bath house deck overlooking the parking lot, and finishing the stairs and small retaining wall leading from the parking lot to bath house.
Electricity/Elevator. Because of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have to have an elevator from the parking lot to the bath house, to make it possible for folks in wheelchairs or otherwise mobility-impaired to access the pool. (This is one of several things that has made our unique and beautiful location a bit of a challenge to work with.) A working elevator requires a significant upgrade to the pool’s old electrical power. That requires PEPCO to do some work on one of the power poles along MacArthur, to put in a buried conduit from the base of the pole to the new bathhouse, and run the power cables through the conduit. Unfortunately, PEPCO had some problems last fall focusing on the need to get our job completed. Early in January I began working with them directly on this issue, and it seems that we now have their attention, and that the job will be completed very soon – ideally this upcoming week. That will allow our contractor to install the elevator and finish up the electrical work on the site. Neither of those tasks (elevator, finishing electrical) will be terribly time-consuming, but they can’t get done until PEPCO does its work.
Site Readiness. There are a variety of things that will be done to get the site ready for our use. These include putting crushed rock/material over the storm water outfall at the back of the pool so that it can be driven over, moving around (and possibly hauling away) some dirt from underneath the deck, paving the parking lot, etc. You can see some of that going on from MacArthur. For example, the contractor has smoothed and graded the hill between the pool and the parking lot, and, if you walk on the site under the deck, some smoothing there has occurred as well.
White Coating. If you’ve gone to look at the pool, you have seen that all three pools are bare concrete like the deck. The surface of the finished swimming pools will be the normal concrete/plaster-like substance known as “white coat.” Once the white coat is applied the pool has to be full and the weather has to be above freezing. So, practically speaking, the white coating is going to be the last thing we do, starting in late March – or as soon as the weather is reliably above freezing overnight.
Once the white coat is done, the pool systems (heater, pumps, etc.) will be turned on and tested, with our long-time pool management company (Bethesda Aquatics) gearing up for the season.
As I mentioned above, many of these activities can and will proceed in parallel: the contractor will have people working on the site while the elevator is being installed; the fencing can be completed while electrical work is done; etc.
As you might imagine, in a project of this size and complexity, there are a number of county sign-offs/inspections that need to occur. We are not waiting for the whole thing to be done before starting the inspection process. Instead, our contractor is working with the county to get as many inspections done in advance as possible.
As it stands now we expect to be able to open on or about May 1; at this point we don’t see any issues that would cause any major delays. The biggest contingency – which we obviously expect not to happen – is that at some point in the inspection process, some issue or problem is uncovered that requires non-trivial remedial work. We have been very happy with the quality of the work of our contractor and subcontractors, so, again we don’t expect this to arise. The other uncontrollable contingency is the weather; again, the white-coating can’t happen until we are reliably above freezing.
We’re not going to know for sure on these items until late March, and we’ll keep the community informed as events progress. The plan is to have everything, or nearly everything, besides the white-coating done by the time the white-coating starts, so that it will be, effectively, the last thing on the project. (There will doubtless be some minor “punch list” items that get fixed towards the very end…)
Site Walk-Though. We plan to have a walk-through of the site for interested community members on Saturday, March 7. Watch your email for details. Doubtless there will be any number of relatively minor items (and the white coating!) remaining to be done at that time, but our expectation is that the major site and building work will be done. During the walk-through, folks in attendance will also see the location of the new “legacy wall,” with a last opportunity to purchase bricks to appear there in honor of contributions to the pool and the project.
There are going to be a lot of things involved in getting the pool ready to open that are not the contractor’s responsibility. For example, the contractor is not responsible for putting any plantings onto the hill between the pool and the parking lot, or placing furniture around the deck. The contractor is not responsible for removing the weeds that have grown up between the porous tiles of the tetherball area. Etc. As we get into March and the weather turns more hospitable, we are going to be organizing a number of “pool work days” on the weekends so that the facility will be not just technically ready to go, but look the way we want it to look, when the season starts. For those of you with middle school and high school kids, Mohican Pool is pre-approved for SSL hours, so that your student can help out the pool community while fulfilling the Montgomery County “student service learning” requirements.
Mohican Swimming Pool Association