From the beginning, Columbia was built for the future. Many of the buildings and features that are available now have been around since the earliest years of the community.

This was a strategic move. Columbia was envisioned as a complete city. People needed to move here in order to make it one. Columbia Association (CA) played a significant role by preloading the area with pools, sport and fitness clubs, community centers, tot lots, pathways, open space, and lakes and ponds — serving the waves of residents who made Columbia their new home and, over time, attracting many more to move in.

Even some of the more recently constructed buildings date back a few decades. There have been renovations, updates and improvements. But in the coming years, CA still must undertake significant capital improvements. CA continually assesses its facilities to ensure that they may continue to serve the community for many years to come, as well as analyzing what other enhancements can be made.

CA’s board of directors was scheduled to vote on the two-year budget cycle at press time for The Business Monthly in late February. The proposed budget for fiscal 2017 and 2018 includes a number of projects, two of the largest being the construction of a new indoor tennis facility in Long Reach and a set of improvements for Columbia Swim Center.

CA has 33 tennis courts for one of its most popular programs. Nine of those tennis courts are indoors; five of the indoor courts are at the Owen Brown Tennis Club and Bubble, and four are at Columbia Athletic Club. The bubble, which opened in the late ’90s, is reaching the end of its useful life. CA will be able to build a larger, better indoor tennis facility in Long Reach; the proposed building will be located off Old Dobbin Lane across the street from Long Reach High School’s ball fields.

Planning has been a collaborative effort involving our tennis community. The new building will have six courts, and with air conditioning it will be more appealing during the summer, giving players more courts on which to compete and practice during the warmest months of the year. CA hopes to open the new tennis club in 2018. Owen Brown’s indoor courts would then be turned into outdoor courts, keeping the club with 12 courts overall.

Columbia Swim Center opened in 1967, the same year as Columbia’s founding. The swim center is due for a multi-year project that will keep it a fixture of our community well beyond its 50th birthday.

The first phase will bring back the SplashDown water slides, with new flumes and a stair tower being constructed and a new piping system installed. CA will continue to offer the enjoyable Wibit inflatable water play features at Hawthorn Pool once SplashDown reopens. The second phase will bring upgrades to the locker and changing rooms, improve the lobby and make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The third phase will replace the wading pool.

One reason this is being done in phases is because Columbia Swim Center has 11 of CA’s 23 indoor swim lanes. By limiting the amount of work done in the summer months, those lanes will be available the rest of the year, when they are most in demand. CA hopes to finish the last phase in 2018.

Those are just two of the projects. Other work will be done, too. I’ve said before that it took hard work for Columbia to become one of the best places to live, and it takes even more hard work to remain one of the best. That’s what our community has come to expect. That is CA’s mission, and that is what CA is putting into action.

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