Stephen Ellison

East Bay Swim Team Getting the Boot From Longtime Home Pool

A youth swim team in the East Bay that has been using the same home pool for more than 45 years has been told it no longer will be permitted access to the facility.

The Walnut Country Stingrays, which has 100 swimmers ranging in age from 4 to 18, is being kicked out of the Cowell Homeowners Association’s main pool in Concord because the team has members who are not residents of the neighborhood, the HOA said.

Swimmers and their parents were stunned, to say the least.

"It’s been pretty difficult for our daughter to understand it," parent Mike Kindorf said. "There have been a lot of tears, and she’s been pretty upset over it."

Swimmer Sarah Kindorf said the club is like a family to her.

"I’ve never been on another team. I’ve always been on this team," she said. "I learned how to swim on this team."

In a letter to the community, the homeowners association argued that because the swim team has members that aren’t residents in the neighborhood, they can’t be allowed to have exclusive access to the pool and take time away from the homeowners who do live in the neighborhood.

The Stingrays will not be permitted to use the pool after the end of their 2019 season, the HOA said.

"They say, 'You gotta get out.' What happens to the team?" Stingrays Director-elect Tony Washmera said. "We die. We’re done."

Washmera, who has been involved with the team since he was 7 years old, said the team pays to use the pool and has been a partner with the HOA for more than 45 years. So he wants to know: Why evict them now?

Washmera said the HOA hasn’t tried to communicate with the team directly and instead had lawyers send the letter last Tuesday.

The HOA denied that in a statement but did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

"We don’t have legal representation as of right now, and we are very uncomfortable walking into a meeting with lawyers," Washmera said. "It’s kind of like walking into a gunfight with a knife."

Meanwhile, the swimmers' parents are hoping the loss of the pool won't mean the end of the team.

"It would be a big loss for our family," parent Dana Sielman said.

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