Members of the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC are peeved by the hours at the large family pool, which were adjusted to accommodate campers for the summer.
The pool is exclusively used by campers until 3 p.m., at which point it’s open to the public. JCC members, many of whom joined specifically to use the pool, say the new hours don’t work for them, and the other pools — an outdoor lap pool, an outdoor instructional pool, an outdoor kid pool and an indoor pool — don’t fit their needs and the needs of their families.
“I don’t think there was much thought put into how the whole community would be affected when the hours were revised,” said Dawn Barton, a mother of 10 and JCC member of two years. “Just like any change, all voices should be heard, especially when you are putting money into an organization.”
An online petition asking for a viable alternative has 198 signatures as of press time.
We’re fighting it because we like it here. — Ann Gorton, JCC member
The change in hours came in conjunction with the first summer of J Day Camp, the new camp on the Owings Mills JCC campus that started this summer with the termination of Camp Milldale as a separate entity. JCC members were informed of the change in hours in early May.
“Because it was a new program, we didn’t know until May what the final course of action would be with the pool hours,” said Barak Hermann, CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore. “We’re sincerely sorry for any inconvenience this change has caused our members. This is the first summer for our new J Day campers on our Owings Mills campus, and we’re constantly evaluating logistics.”
He said he’s aware that members are frustrated and disappointed and said he’s “sad that people are upset.” The pool being used exclusively by campers, as opposed to allowing campers and members both use the pool at the same time, was for safety reasons, Hermann said.
The family pool, the JCC’s large pool that has a splash pad, used to be open to the public at noon during the week. Its weekday hours are now 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays. There are three other outdoor pools — a lap pool, a baby pool and an instructional pool — and an indoor lap pool with varying hours that are not affected by the camps. Members argue that those pools are not ideal for families to spend a day at the J.
“The J is claiming you can still go up there at noon [and use] the little instructional pool,” said Ann Gorton, a mother of two boys. “[There would be] kids jumping on top of each other and too many kids in that little pool.”
Her sons go to Camp Airy for the second session, and since she’s a teacher, during the first part of the summer she likes to spend the day at the pool with the family. Like other families, Gorton used the JCC pool as a family activity during the weeks kids aren’t at camp.
“Some of us do not have the extra money for camp all summer,” Elizabeth Gibard wrote in the petition’s comments section.
Several commenters say they may look for other pools next summer if these hours continue.
“We’re trying to tell Barak we’re fighting it because we like it here,” Gorton said. “We want to stay.”
Hermann said, “Because of the growing numbers, we [have to] make difficult decisions. … We’re constantly doing the best we can to serve the community and evolve.”