Holly Center Pool reopens to wide acclaim

After being closed for about four years, the Holly Center swimming pool last week reopened with a ribbon cutting attended by dignitaries and those who will swim and exercise with caretakers and family members.

The heated, Olympic-sized pool closed due to needed repairs that were not funded by the state, the owner of the center on Snow Hill Road.

The pool, explained Mike Dunn, CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee, has served both residents of the Holly Center as well community groups including senior citizens and the developmentally disabled.

“The mechanical system of the pool was from 1970s or so.

“In January of 2016 or 2017 the state’s Secretary of Health came and looked at the Holly Center and he was impressed. He worked on developing the Holly Center Reimagined Concept,” Dunn explained.

The concept was unfolded at a presentation at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. Attending was Dr. Katherine L.R. Jones, director of the Bay Area Center for Independent Living.

The Greater Salisbury Committee brought embers of the Eastern Shore Delegation to the Shore, along with officials from the Maryland Department of Health.

“The Greater Salisbury Committee has been part of this since the Reimagined Concept started,” Dunn said.

Jones called Dunn saying she eager to work together to “build a coalition to get the pool reopened,” he said.

Experts from the local engineering, design and general contracting firm Allen & Shariff inspected the pool and made recommendations to the state. Improvements were funded, as well as HVAC upgrades and a new roof.

“Years ago, my organization, Holly Community Inc., which was not affiliated with the Holly Center, used that pool on Friday nights. Children with disabilities and my children and I used it. MAC Inc., the senior center, used it. There was an arthritis group that used it, the Girl Scouts used it. It had been a community pool.

“Slowly, due to lack of community interest, or something that happened, the plug was pulled on the pool and a few members were disappointed,” Jones said.

Agreeing, Salisbury resident Bob Freeman, whose 18-year-old son Dylan has autism, said the young man swam there from the time he was 3 years old.

“It was kind of sad. It was an abrupt closure, kind of disappointing. The program Dylan was involved in was for children and adults with disabilities. When it closed, it was frustrating.

“It’s a good form of exercise. I think one of the things is, some kids with disabilities come to places like this and they look out of place.

“Dylan is kind of quiet, but you have kids that don’t fit in. They make some noise. Everybody looks at them kind of funny. This is a program where everybody is equal. Everybody can come and everybody is accepted. It’s great for camaraderie and for exercise,” Freeman said.

“I think Dylan is looking forward to it. He loves to swim,” Freeman said.

“Families and caretakers can share experiences and support,” said Jones, whose Bay Area Center for Independent Living, one of seven in Maryland, serves hundreds of individuals of all ages.

The Holly Center received a $60,000 grant from the Rural Maryland Council to help pay for pool repairs and annual memberships will be sold for about $400. Applications will be accepted beginning in January.

The pool will be open all year.

On Wednesday, its opening was celebrated by officials including Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, Maryland Delegates Carl Anderton and Chris Adams and Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Health Department Bernard Simons.

Two families from the Holly Center ceremoniously got into the warm water – the temperature is kept between 88 and 94 degrees for therapeutic value – as well as Bay Area CIL participants.

“The one great thing about this pool is there is going to be 24 hours a week, to start, of just free swim,” Jones said.

“The partnership that our community has with the Holly Center is instrumental. The Holly Center has been part of the pulse of this community for years. To have this partnership extended to the entire disability community is amazing, in addition to extending it to caregivers and their families.

“It’s a great community center where people can come together and support each other. To have this in rural Wicomico County is huge. A place for therapy for spinal cord injuries, that didn’t exist before,” Jones said.

Dunn called the opening “tremendously exciting news.”

“I dare say the majority of headlines coming out of the Holly Center the last 10 to 15 years have not been good headlines. Some people were getting laid off. The residents, the cottages being closed. As part of the Holly Center Reimagined process, the admissions process has also been revamped,” Dunn said.

“They are accepting admissions. The Holly Center is open for business.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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