By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Nov. 23, 2017) The Oasis Pool Working Group recently forwarded to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors a four-page letter of recommendations addressing the formerly adults-only Oasis swimming pool at the yacht club.
The pool changed to allow all ages last summer, based on the opinion on association attorney Jeremy Tucker, who said the previous policy discriminated against families, which are a protected class under the Fair Housing Act.
“Unfortunately, this sudden and drastic change to a long-standing amenity, without public input or discussion, caused a tremendous amount of suspicion, frustration and anger among a large segment of Ocean Pines residents,” the letter states.
“Many wonder how this could happen after so many years with no questions about the legality, and question if the law applies to a community that has five pools with only one designated as adult only. Because his research and legal recommendations were, and continue to be, discussed in closed session, many are suspicious of the findings acted on by the board.
“There were several heated confrontations this past summer between adults with young kids and long time YC pool users. Most of these were due to kids splashing and jumping near older residents, who were fearful of being knocked down and possibly injured. At times, the resulting confrontations almost got out of hand.”
According to the statement, many pool members said they would not renew membership because of the change.
The working group hired attorney James Almand to look into the matter. His opinion, according to the statement, was changing pool rules to eliminate some of the behavior pool users found undesirable would be easier — and less legally treacherous — than banning younger swimmers altogether.
“There is … currently no law that would prohibit Ocean Pines Aquatics from prohibiting certain types of conduct at a particular pool as long as it is age-neutral, meaning it has to apply to ALL patrons,” the letter states. “The courts opinion specifically states that ‘…setting aside certain hours for lap swimming … or imposing restrictions on making noise … or running or roughhousing in the pool area’ is allowed.
“After reviewing all of the information, it appears that Ocean Pines can best address this issue by creating a ‘Quiet Pool,’ an environment similar to an ‘Adults-only’ pool but without violating the FHA. This can be accomplished by prohibiting certain conduct at the pool rather than prohibiting a particular status or age group. Charging a premium rate for use of the Oasis pool, and addressing the underage alcohol consumption concerns are additional options.”
The statement continued, “The best option, in our opinion, is to create a true ‘Oasis Pool’ atmosphere at the YC pool. This can be accomplished by instituting additional strict rules of conduct that will apply to EVERYONE using that pool, such as no running, no cannonballs, no shouting, no loud noises, no Marco-polo, etc.
“The problem with this plan is enforcing the new rules. Younger kids may not listen and some parents may not pay attention. Asking a young lifeguard to tell an adult that they have to keep their child quiet or under control is not going to work and is really not fair to the lifeguard.”
The group recommended publicizing new rules “as soon as approved by the Board,” and giving a copy and requiring a signature to anyone who purchases a pool membership or day pass. Adult lifeguards should be on duty at the pool and rules should be strictly enforced, the group stated.
Additionally, they advised emailing lapsed pool members to encourage their return.
Suggested pool rules are:
- Anyone under the age of 13 years old must be accompanied by an
adult/guardian who is a minimum of 18 years old.
- Flotation devices, except for life jackets and noodles, are prohibited.
- Balls & Frisbees are prohibited.
- No throwing of any toys into or around the pool.
- No Running.
- No Jumping.
• All pool entry must be from steps or ladders.
- No Cannonballs.
- No Loud Noises.
- Electronic audio devices allowed with ear buds only.
- Please refrain from hanging on the lane lines.
- Any incontinent person must wear a swim diaper in order to access pool.
- Diaper changing is not allowed at poolside. Please use changing tables located in the restrooms.
“It is our hope that the efforts of this group of concerned Ocean Pines Residents to find a reasonable solution in an open public forum, to a problem that has divided the community, will be discussed and considered by the BOD and GM,” the statement concluded. “We would also ask that these findings and recommendations be included as a topic in an upcoming public Board meeting.”
The Ocean Pines Board is scheduled to meet next on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Assateague Room of the community center on 235 Ocean Parkway.