LEONARDTOWN, Md. — On May 25, the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners(BOCC) held a public forum. Earlier that day, the BOCC released a statement about discussions with the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) about the future of the Wellness Center and Aquatics Center at the Leonardtown Campus.

The BOCC’s statement said, “No formal agreement has been reached between the county and the college to manage the Wellness and Aquatics Center in Leonardtown.”

CSM began remote operations on March 16, 2020. The facility has been closed since then.

In October 2020, CSM began discussions with the St. Mary’s County Government regarding the center’s future. On February 2, 2021, the commissioners directed the Department of Recreation & Parks to work with CSM to create terms for the responsibility between the two in managing the facility.

At the public forum, many citizens expressed their concern about the future of the facility. The concerns covered the delay in reopening the pool, as well as the fact that CSM announced they would not be reopening the pool at its La Plata Campus. According to a statement on CSM’s website, “During the shutdown, the college conducted an evaluation of the viability and sustainability of our programs and identified numerous growth opportunities as well as indicators of programs experiencing decline.”

At the forum, one citizen said, “The Wellness Center has had a fitness program that had been used extensively by many of the county seniors for over 10 years… Both therapeutic programs and others based on guidelines from the Arthritis Foundation have been ongoing in the therapy pool for up to 21 classes per week and 10 enrollees in each class.”

Many other citizens echoed similar sentiments at the forum, citing how the facility was beneficial to their physical and mental health. One person mentioned having to go to the Great Mills pool, which was out of her way.

Associate Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at CSM, Ellen Flowers-Fields, also attended the public forum. She addressed the concerns of those in attendance by saying, “Our mutual commitment remains firm. We are working through the negotiation process and as the College of Southern Maryland is in Phase Three of its reopening operations. Our first priority is to get our students back in the classroom, and to do that safely”

She went on to say, “As we move towards the Fall, we plan to expand that reopening to some of the wellness and fitness activities.”

The public forum is available to watch on the St. Mary’s County Government YouTube Channel.

Contact Brooke and our news desk at news@thebaynet.com