If Google Earth could display such things, the map program would have shown thousands of Queen Anne’s County kids crying and parents shocked in disbelief after hearing that QAC Commissioner President Phil Dumenil single-handedly killed any chance for a public pool being built in Centreville anytime soon.
He did that by informing the public on April 8th that he was withdrawing his support of an agreement between the county and Chesapeake YMCA to share the cost of constructing a new recreation center and indoor pool across from Queen Anne’s County High School.
By reneging on his commitment for the agreement, which was approved by a 3-1 vote in December, Mr. Dumenil has, in essence, frozen the project for the foreseeable future.
It doesn’t seem to take much for Mr. Dumenil to turn on a dime. After signing the agreement with great pride in November by saying, “this will be a great benefit to the families of our county,” Mr. Dumenil made a complete flip on his position with a statement at the end of the Commissioners’ meeting last week that he had changed his mind after talking to some constituents. No specifics were given and nor were there suggestions on how to improve the agreement to move forward.
This was the same council president who only five months prior had boldly said:
“While some may question why the County is providing funding for a Y, the lack of an indoor pool in this county would have eventually led us to funding one at one or both of the high schools,. Through this partnership though, the county will not be burdened with the operating/maintenance/staffing costs associated with an indoor pool which can be extremely high. We see it as a win-win.”
And yet, after talking to “some constituents,” he announces at the end of a two hour meeting that he had changed his mind.
Here is his statement which runs two minutes in length:
One is left only to imagine what those “constituents” had said that so quickly changed the mind of a once passionately committed proponent of the project. Mr. Dumenil does not say what wisdom was offered that led him to now call it, “not a good partnership.”
In short, Mr. Dumenil is saying that he does not have confidence in the Young Men’s Christian Association to fulfill their part of the agreement. Having first understood that time was needed for the Y to raise $4 million in individual gifts and foundation grants in order to reimburse the county after the building was completed, the councilman now is demanding all of that up front, presumably in cash rather than personal checks.
Remarkably, almost out of the blue, he also suggested that the YMCA might need to contribute more than the 50% they had already committed to raise, but did not indicate why and for what reasons. And this was done with full knowledge that the YMCA had also committed be providing the operational support for the building.
But the most troubling in his statement was his lack of respect for YMCA community leadership and their ability to fulfill their financial commitments. Nor did he seem it fit to mention the YMCA’s extraordinary current contributions in the lives of thousands of QA County children and adults.
This is the same YMCA that voluntarily took over the management and costs of running the only existing public pool at Chesapeake College after the school could not operate it. When they heard the pool building was to be torn down, it was the YMCA that invested staff time and financed the feasibility studies for the Centreville project to replace it.
For Mr. Dumenil to blindside such an important friend of QAC without warning is a action that he and his constituents will need to morally evaluate in the months ahead. But to turn away from a project that would provide the only public pool and recreation center for over 10,000 kids in Queen Anne’s, in partnership with a world-class nonprofit organization willing to put up half the money for the building, as well as cover the costs of its operation, is unconscionable.
Perhaps Mr. Dumenil’s other “constituents,” like the children and parents of Queen Anne’s County, might have a word with him. It seems to work. He can be reached at: