GAITHERSBURG, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Community pools are a summer staple as many people look forward to the cooling down and having fun -- but the pool season is either on hold or canceled altogether around the D.C. region.
Most county and city pools within Montgomery County are slated to open over the July 4th holiday but some will only allow membership holders and city residents.
Pools managed by many Home Owners Associations (HOA) are closed for the summer, citing legal and safety concerns due to the pandemic restrictions.
FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan attempted to reach out to several private associations within Montogmery County, specifically in Gaithersburg, but was not successful in speaking with anyone who could share information about the status of their private community pools.
“Many community associations have an exclusion in their general liability insurance policy that says if someone were to contract a communicable disease while on the common area the. there would be no insurance coverage if that person sued the association, so that’s a risk,” explained Ursula Burgess, President of Community Associations Institute based out of Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.
“Now do we really think that someone could prove that they caught COVID-19 from a particular pool on a particular day? No, that probably will be a relatively difficult item to prove just from the nature of it," she continued.
Burgess said that besides liability, the question of finances also comes into play.
She said that for example, if an association is already having a tough year, then opening the pool for a month and a half or maybe even two months means having to spend an extra amount of money that is not within the budget and that financial decision can be the driving force where these associations just can’t do it.
Burgess said that public pools usually have immunity from lawsuits, meaning they lack a lot of the exposure that most private pools face.
FOX 5 also checked around to see which private pools were open and one resident told Ayesha Khan via Facebook that the pool in the Kentlands is open. Our station was able to obtain and confirm a copy of a waiver recently sent by the Kentlands Citizens Assembly to its residents, part of which states:
“... . I acknowledge that RSV Pools, Inc. has put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. I acknowledge that RSV Pools, Inc. cannot guarantee that I will not become infected with the Coronavirus/Covid-19. I understand that the risk of becoming exposed to and/or infected by the Coronavirus/COVID- 19 may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of myself and others, including, but not limited to, pool staff, and other Residents and their families.
I voluntarily seek services provided by the RSV Pools, Inc. and acknowledge that I am increasing my risk to exposure to the Coronavirus/COVID-19. I acknowledge that I must comply with all set procedures to reduce the spread while attending the pool.”
Residents living in the Quince Orchard Park community received a letter stating that the community pool will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season.
We also checked in Northern Virginia and residents at the Quaker Hill community received a letter which states that their pool will also not open for this season.
We asked Burgess about what happens with the HOA fees that most people are paying toward using the amenities within their communities, as in do residents get their money back and she said, that it sometimes depends on each individual association.
“It’s the same as if there’s snow,” Burgess explained, “We budget every year for snow removal, we don’t give people their money back if we don’t have a lot of snow right? So what we do is that we then consider that as to what the surplus that year or if there is some big project we’d like to do, that we just couldn’t do and we roll it into the next year.”