Inspectors: Pool safe, fire code issues a concern

STRASBURG – A recreation center pool used by Shenandoah County schools showed no signs of major problems, recent inspections show.

Regardless, the school division’s swim team needs a new place to practice after Superintendent Jeremy Raley said he found problems with the pool at Signal Knob Recreation Center, 35 Brandy Court, Strasburg. Raley advised the Board of Supervisors about the situation during a report Tuesday.

But owner Jerry King said Wednesday that he’s had any problems with the pool fixed. King, who opened the facility about 15 years ago next to the Ramada Inn, also questioned Raley’s motive for not wanting the swim team to use the facility. Raley could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The pool was dirty when Raley visited the facility because it had not been cleaned for about a month, King admitted. The owner said he’s since bought a machine designed to clean the pool.

“Most of the schools have a good crowd when they come in there,” King said.

Besides hotel guests and, until recently, Shenandoah County students, other groups have used the facility. Valley Swim Team Phoenix has had no problems with the pool since it began using the facility in 2005, the organization’s president Jessica De Jong said Wednesday.

“It’s not a state-of-the-art, fantastic, beautiful facility but, for all intents and purposes, it serves us well,” De Jong said. “We, obviously, in this area do not have a tremendous amount of options and it has serviced our team well.”

“I would hate for Shenandoah County high school swimmers not to have the opportunity to swim,” De Jong added. “Our kids do fine swimming in that pool … I think there’s a difference between meeting code, whether it be health code, building code, and things not looking great.”

Fire Marshal David Ferguson said Wednesday that he inspected the facility Aug. 24 after Raley expressed his concerns about the pool. Ferguson said he met with county Building Official Mike Dellinger at the facility to conduct the inspection.

“I inspected it for life safety concerns,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson issued a violation notice to owner Jerry King that listed six problems all related to fire safety such as: smoke detectors and emergency lights didn’t work; certain doors didn’t open or were locked when they should remain open; the facility didn’t have enough fire extinguishers.

King said he had to take care of the fire safety matters whether or not anyone uses the pool. Problems were addressed within days of the inspection, King said. The locked door does not serve as an exit for the pool, King added.

The owner has 30 days to correct the problems. Ferguson said he plans to schedule an inspection for next week.

Once the county issues a certificate of occupancy for a building, the fire marshal handles code compliance concerns and conducts inspections, Dellinger explained. Ferguson said he and Dellinger would address any electrical hazards that might appear. Ferguson said he couldn’t recall finding any open electrical junction boxes or exposed wiring during his inspection.

“The reason we did the co-inspection together is so that way, if things are found, obviously we can handle them at the same time,” Ferguson said.

The Shenandoah County Health Department inspected the facility on Sept. 16 in response to complaints, Lord Fairfax Health District Director Charles Devine III stated in an email Wednesday.

“Our water tests made during the visit showed water quality within the desired range,” Devine states. “We also found the facility was properly posting their water quality test results consistent with the requirements of the posting regulations.

“We did find the water flow rate through the filter system appeared to be less than the desired rate, but this may only reflect a problem with the gauge,” Devine adds. “They are replacing the gauge and we will re-inspect after this is accomplished. Even with the possible flow issue, the water quality met the water quality requirements.”

King said he ordered new parts for the pool to increase the flow.

Public swimming pools such as the one at the center don’t require a permit, Devine explained.

The department investigates complaints but otherwise does not routinely inspect public swimming pools, Devine said. Pools at tourist establishments such as hotels and campgrounds fall under separate regulations, require permits and undergo routine inspections.

“We are currently investigating to see if this pool’s categorization as an un-permitted public pool remains proper,” Devine states.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com