Board Meeting Minutes July 25, 2019

Prince George’s Swimming Pool, Inc.

Board Meeting

Minutes: July 25, 2019


Present: Elizabeth Duffy, April Downs, DJ Nolan, Marvin Russel, Dave DeRosa, Dennis Alexander, Chuck Thies, Meredith Massey, Abebi Wolfe, Chris Goff

Absent: Stacey Smith

Apologies: Mary Melchior, Mic Burns



Old Business (MMA)

  • Code violations
    • DJ, Mic and Chris met with code enforcement person.  There are some remaining items to be completed in the next two months which will easily be taken care of.
  • Pay Data
    • Board does not see any egregious discrepancies, but the data appear to be incomplete. The board will request that Lighthouse aggregate this data (stripping identifying information) and make available to employees. Lighthouse employees are encouraged to negotiate their pay rate.
  • Levee Report: Work has started and is slated to last 2 years. The sidewalk is open but traffic is bad. Work on phase B (at the pool) is slated to start Sept 15.



  • Finance
    • All good
  • Management
    • Management committee is forming. A member with relevant experience has been recruited.
  • Physical Plant
    • Ice cream freezer is not functioning properly (Chris will contact service person)
  • Membership
    • Notification of August memberships has gone out.
  • Co-op
  • Events
    • Bike to pool day postponed.
    • Wild Anacostia’s representative would like to address the board about events leading up to the board’s decision to instruct the events committee to not book the Wild Anacostias at the pool next year. (approved)


New Business:

  • Tree report
    • We will follow any recommendations in the report
  • Board email addresses (update)
    • Will ask Tanya to set up logical board addresses (Chris)
  • Broken guitars claim
    • The 19th street ban was under the pavilion two weeks ago and a big wind blew our tapestries which knocked over two guitars. They would like their guitars fixed ($1074).
    • The board agrees to pay half the cost of repairs as a gesture of good faith (unanimous)
    • Will require bands to have contracts next year.
  • Member meeting- August 24, 4pm
    • Notifications
    • Agenda items and process
      • Time limits to discussion
    • Board elections
      • Chris Goff will not run for president again.
      • Marvin, Dennis, Mic, Mary and Stacey are up for re-election.
  • Matthew Nolan, manager, addressed the board
    • Requested modified lightning policy for when bands play because it is hard to hear thunder when bands play. Would like to use lightning sighting only rather than the flash-bang rule (because they can’t hear the bang). (approved)
    • Lifeguards have offered to be in charge of ice cream next year. They are already responsible for a lot of the moving of ice cream and this would make it a more seamless process.

Future business: 


·         Restructure the Waiting List – get zip codes

·         Long-term plan for music on the grounds

  • Single-member hold fee change
  • Smoking policy
  • Lighthouse hiring policies check


Next meeting: August 15, 2019


Observations on PG Pool Trees, Highlighting some Defects to Watch

Steve McKindley-Ward, pool member and ISA-certified arborist.


My assumption, with minimal discussion with David Nolan or any board members, was that it might be useful to have a trained eye look at all trees on the pool grounds, and flag anything that might present elevated risk. This was in the context of fulfilling my volunteer hours.


This is not to be mistaken for a thorough professional report, because I wasn’t systematic or thorough. I wandered around for 2 hours looking at all the big trees. Younger trees were examined for developing structural problems—particularly those that can still be corrected with skilled pruning for better, stronger architecture.


The trees look, in general, reasonably well taken care of. I did not see anything that I consider of imminent risk of failure—limbs or whole trees. Nonetheless, some notable things turned up:




1. Red maple, 30 inches (estimate) diameter at breast height (DBH), located 15 feet from intersection of long walkway and the pool deck – In my opinion, this tree has been in a slow state of decline for several years. (This is not unusual for mature trees.) It has now become infected with a fungal organism (Kretzshmeria deutsa) evidenced by the patchy, flattened, gray/tan, lumpy, white-edged fruiting bodies on the root flare—plus crusty, black, leftover fruiting bodies from years past. This fungus digests cellulose in wood, causing it, over time, to become brittle and more subject to windthrow. I am not a good enough arborist to predict how long this tree has to remain standing erect. One positive, mitigating fact is that it has some tall trees around it to help break up the wind’s force. But it is still a tree to watch. The longer this fungus digests cellulose at its base, the more likely it is to fail from the base, i.e. pitch over. I’d get a second opinion from a good arborist. (Keith Pitchford and Associates in DC are quite good.)


2. Hickory, 20 inches DBH (estimate), located about 15 feet south of the gas grills. – Hickory trees are rare in a landscaped setting. For the nursery industry, their long, aggressive taproot make them hard to propagate and transplant—which means you’ll have a hard time buying a hickory tree. This one probably came with the property when the pool was built in the 1950’s. Unfortunately, it lost its top a few years ago, which got cut off square at 20 feet up. After this happened, two limbs (now 10 and 12 inches diameter) took over terminal growth responsibilities, reaching skyward as replacement main stems. The problem is these two newer stems are attached to now-decaying wood on the old trunk top. The two stems themselves are healthy. But they are attached to an unsound, decaying base—which is not good. This hickory has another problem—one I’ve never seen. The branch tips are loaded with malformed nuts—in way too many numbers—at twig ends. With binoculars I could also see what appears as an aphid infestation, which by itself is not a big concern. But some of the foliage also looks odd. Main concern: New terminal stems with substantial weight attached to decaying wood 20 feet up. Do I think failure is imminent? Like this summer? Gut feeling: Unlikely. But something to watch. The decay at the top of the old trunk top will not repair itself. It is too extensive. I’m afraid decay has got the upper hand here. Again, a second opinion might be a good idea.


To conclude this “big tree” portion of my unsystematic report…I am not saying the other big trees on the property are all in excellent condition. (The giant pin oak by the fire ring is developing repeat dieback in the crown. A huge oak 3 feet outside the east fence, overhanging the grounds, has English ivy crawling up the trunk, making trunk inspection impossible.) Instead, I’m drawing attention to the two trees that, in my opinion, after two hours looking them up and down, should not be ignored—the red maple and the hickory.





3. ‘Princeton’ American elms—Five of them were planted on the grounds maybe 10-12 years ago. Not a bad choice for fast growth and disease resistance. Note, however, that all five have multiple, ascending stems RADIATING FROM ONE NODE ON THE MAIN TRUNK. This is inherently weak structure for this American elm variety. Poor architecture. Over time, they have a tendency to suddenly split off ascending stems. At the DC government’s Urban Forestry Division, we now shy away from selecting this variety of American elm. We learned the hard way that Princetons require aggressive, annual (or semi-annual) pruning to clear out some of the stems that radiate from the same node—“decongesting” that node. Failure to do this is asking for weak branch unions at that node…and eventually, dramatic split-offs. And the longer “tough love” is let slide, the more likely that stem “split-offs” will occur with each passing year. Based on what I’ve seen at Barracks Row, in the next 3-4 years this could begin at the pool. It could be sooner. I’ll be honest and say I’ve not been involved with rectifying Princeton structural problems VIA PRUNING ONCE THEY’VE GOTTEN THIS BIG—main stems about 12 inches in diameter.

                DC’s Urban Forestry Division made this same mistake—waiting way too long to address structural weaknesses in Princeton elms. At the Marine Barracks on 8th Street SE, both sides of the street were planted with solid Princeton elms about 15 years ago. In the last four years, as they develop a split downwards into the main trunk (beginning at the node where multiple ascending stems radiate upwards)—we now remove the whole tree…and start all over with a new, different tree at that location. (Vertical cracks through the main stem do not fuse back together. It’s a ruined stem that will never regain strength on its own.

                One of the Princetons at the pool is showing signs of just such a split, right through the heart of the main stem, downwards from the above-mentioned node.

                There is, however, an arboricultural technique worth a try, in my opinion: a brace. (I have not performed this fix. But it written about in the International Society of Arboriculture’s training manual. So it is a long-established, accepted practice.)


A brace is a threaded, horizontal steel rod installed across a splitting (or potentially splitting,) “V-crotch”—right through the middle of two neighboring, usually co-dominant stems. A long hole is drilled (half to five-eighths inch diameter) through the weak crotch…through which is run the steel rod. Washers and nuts are screwed on both ends and cinched up tight. Any extra rod length sticking out beyond the nuts is cut off. As the tree grows, new wood is laid on and eventually engulfs this hardware. (By the way, a 10-inch American elm on the east fence line has engulfed a 10” X 30” section of chain link into its heartwood without seeming to mind at all.) In theory, this bracing technique can prevent two co-dominant stems from splitting—and might be an option to save this one Princeton that has developed a vertical crack. I can check at work whether more-experienced arborists think this is worth a try. Maybe the pool could bring in a top-flight tree care company (Bartlett Tree Experts, Davey Resources, The Care of Trees) on this bracing idea… AND whether or not other ascending stems on the same tree (not included in the brace reinforcement) are likely to split off later—making the effort to install a brace of questionable worth. If you go this direction, you might be into a multi-year process of both structural pruning and getting this brace checked. And I’d say this likely will apply, eventually, to all five Princeton elms. This is a tough situation.


4. Small, twin-stem SILVER MAPLE, 12 feet-tall, extreme northwest corner—It’s never a good idea to leave two stems grow on what could eventually be a huge shade tree. (Silver maples get big.) One main stem is always a better, less-failure-prone way to direct growth. Happily, this one is a relatively easy fix. One permanent stem should be selected…and the other slowly pruned back over a 3-4 year period, until it is completely pruned back to one stem at the point where they now diverge about a foot off the ground. This is no big deal on a very small, vigorous tree. I could handle it myself.


Steve McKindley-Ward

301-927-1720 (home)