I-Team: In Clayton, heated debate about decaying neighborhood pool

Friday, July 13, 2018

CLAYTON, NC (WTVD) -- If the pool's deterioration wasn't their fault, should the neighborhood still have to pay to bring the fun back?

That's what's at stake in Clayton's Glen Laurel subdivision, where more than 600 homeowners must decide whether they want their Homeowners Association to purchase the decaying property after the former owner defaulted on his payments.

"It's completely lifeless," resident Jessica Gonzales told ABC11. "It's lacking all of the happiness and fun that I know so many families experienced here."

The smiles could be back if the majority of residents approve one of two proposals offered by the Glen Laurel Homeowners Association. On July 31, the HOA will hold a special meeting on a plan to purchase either some or all of the swim club property, including the adjacent tennis courts, and potentially add an expanded offering of amenities like a fitness room.

Drone 11 captures the condition of the neglected pool area. (No audio).

If approved, the proposals could cost residents at least $1,200 in special assessments and several hundred dollars more in annual dues.

"The board has concluded that acquisition of the pool and tennis courts is in the best interests of the community and recommends approval," the letter reads. "The decision however is yours."

Earlier this summer, the ABC11 I-Team dived into the pool's ownership history, and found the neighborhood developer Bryan Properties promoting the property on its website, and boasting about the pool on signs at the subdivision's entrance. Pictures show the pool, diving board, toddler play area, patio, cabana, snack bar and playground. Many neighborhood children also joined the swim team.

The signs and the website have since been taken down.

In a statement sent to ABC11, CEO Brian Sheehan explained, "While it was never our Company's desire or intent to own the Glen Laurel Swim & Tennis property, we did obtain ownership of the property when the former owner defaulted on a significant contractual obligation to our Company."

Records obtained by the ABC11 I-Team show the former owner was Club Management Group, Inc., and its chairman William "Ted" Reese, who purchased the land from the developer.

Sheehan said his company was hired to manage the day to day operations of the pool, including hiring and staffing lifeguards. After obtaining possession of the property, Sheehan says there was a Letter of Intent to sell the club to the owner of the neighboring golf course, but that deal fell through at the beginning of May.

"Unfortunately, this left our Company with little time to ready the pool for the 2018 summer season or find an alternative buyer prior to the season starting," Sheehan told ABC11.

According to Gonzales, there are several families - including hers - willing to pay up for the pool, arguing it's a small price to pay for lasting memories.

"It's the memories, it's the kids smiling and laughing, it's my husband doing silly tricks off the diving board," she said. "It's us spending time here together with our neighbors and with our community."

Still, there are others who don't share the same nostalgia.

David Cummings, who moved to Glen Laurel five years ago, said his family chose Glen Laurel because of its location and community feel, and property values won't necessarily go up because of a HOA-owned pool.

"It's an extra burden and it's a burden I'm not going to use."