Come this fall, the much-debated swim bubble will no longer sit atop the Ridge Heights pool. Despite securing Reston Association (RA) board approval earlier this year for a new contract, Curl Swim Services, the owner and operator of the bubble has decided to end its battle with local neighbors who opposed the bubble behind their Turtle Pond Drive community.
Rick Curl, president of Curl Swim Services, notified Jerry Volloy, the executive vice president of the RA, on Tuesday, July 22 of his intention to move his services, including the Curl Burke Swim Team, to a temporary site at the YMCA in Dunn Loring.
Volloy expressed disappointment, but he said he understood Curl's decision because of the time constraints he was facing in putting together a team for September. "The neighbors might have won this battle, but the greater majority of our community lost," Volloy said.
Frank Pfeilmeier, spokesman for the Westcove cluster of neighbors who fought RA's extension of the commercial bubble contract with Curl, said he was very excited to hear about Curl's decision. Pfeilmeier said that he and his neighbors never had a problem with Curl or the swim club, instead he insisted that it was the facility, and its inadequate parking, that was unsuitable for the Ridge Heights pool. "It's a positive step that Rick was able to find another home for the swimmers," said Pfeilmeier, who lives directly behind the bubble. "I was concerned that it would cause our local kids to miss out on a swim team."
MARIA ALLEN'S two sons, Matthew and Christopher, are currently members of the Curl Burke swim team, but she is worried that Curl Burke's decision to leave Reston will impact her two children as well as the other 300 members of the club. A lot of children will not be able to make the trek to Dunn Loring, she said. Her children aren't going to have a place to swim year-round in Reston. "It's our kids that lose here," she said.
"I wish they would reconsider, I don't blame them. They won the battle with RA, but they were tired of fighting an endless battle with the neighbors," Allen said. "I feel that this is a tragedy, but I guess evil wins over good."
Given the neighbors' decision to appeal a recent RA Design Review Board (DRB) decision on the facility's landscaping and the ongoing discussion with the county over parking issues at the site, Volloy said Curl could not continue to wait on answers. "As far as they were concerned, they had reached a point of no return," Volloy said on Tuesday. "The neighbors made it clear that they would pursue action at every point.
"As much as the board wanted to provide an indoor swimming facility to its members and to accommodate the kids on the swim team, we understand that Curl Burke is looking at other options."
Curl Burke's decision to leave Reston will have additional financial impacts on RA, Volloy said. "We were compensated for the use of our facility and Curl Burke paid 60 percent of the cost to maintain the facility," he said.
Rick Curl did not return phone calls for this article.