WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A group of residents teamed up to form a nonprofit organization and will purchase the Sand Springs Pool.
The newly-formed Sand Springs Recreational Center entered an option agreement last week with Redstone Properties to purchase the pool and is now embarking on a capital campaign. They intend to use the pool as a "community gathering place" with an expanded cafe and a learn-to-swim program when they reopen in June 2013.
"We are delighted to have reached agreement with Redstone Properties on an option to purchase this wonderful facility. We greatly appreciate Redstone's willingness to work with us in preserving this historic place and ensuring its continued presence in our town," the group's President Janette Dudley said in a press release. "With its beautiful pool, hot tub, fitness center and other amenities, we hope that the new Sand Springs once again becomes a place where wonderful summer memories are made."
The pool has been closed since 2008. Last year an employee asked the town to help purchase it with Community Preservation Act funds but was denied. Earlier this year, the committee that makes up the nonprofit again kicked around the idea of asking the Community Preservation Act Committee for funds but later decided not to file an application; opting to instead do it on their own. The price is listed at $599,000.
The group hopes to keep membership fees at a minimum and plans to offer scholarships for the swim program to local children, according to Dudley.
The swim program is named after former Williams College swimming coach Carl Samuelson and his wife Nancy. The program will offer group, semi-private and private lessons to children and adults, according to Dudley. Carl Samuelson and former Olympic swimmer Samantha Livingstone are expected to be involved in that program's operations.
The pool was opened at the Wampanaug Inn and Bath House in 1907 and Redstone, under the name Wampanaug Springs Inc., purchased and renovated it it in 2003.
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This article is unclear. This group has just settled on "an option to buy", meaning they have not actually bought the property, correct? That means they've just agreed on a price but have to go out and find the money to actually complete the purchase, correct? What happens if this money is not able to be raised?
Is the business/legal structure of this nonprofit group similar to the one that runs the Youth Center? That is, a group separate from the town (not public) but run with public accessibility and subsidizing fees for low-income families in mind? Or is this more of a club for members, a nonprofit version of the business that was there before?
Sand Springs Recreational Center is a Massachusetts non profit and receives no revenue from the town. It will be operated independently from any other entity and intends to be self-sustaining from operating revenue. The capital campaign includes funds for both maintenance and operating reserves to help ensure this.
While there are currently no funds available to subsidize memberships, the organization's goal is to keep these as low as possible. There will also be a daily use fee option. In addition, we plan to offer scholarships for swimming lessons to make them affordable to all kids in town.
Why not merely incorporate? If it is a tax exempt corporation that meets certain criteria, then wealthy donors can get a tax write-off for donating as well as membership to this "club." In addition, the property will be taken off the Town's tax rolls and will be stiffing the other 99% of the Town for the bill. Another Williamstown good ol' boys scam.
In addition, we plan to offer scholarships for swimming lessons to make them affordable to all kids in town.
Ah, the swimming lessons enable the non-profit to qualify as an educational institution thus making it exempt from paying property taxes to the Town of Williamstown. Well researched!
I do hope this property will not be taken off the Town's tax rolls.
The negativity astounds me. One anonymous poster asks, "Who are these people?", while committee member Janette Dudley responds to posts in her real name. Another spouts off about the "good ol' boy" conspiracy. The non-profit folks just want the pool to open again and are willing to do something about it. Is it better to have a property lie vacant than to support someone who wants to revitalize it without taxpayer money? Oh, and only the "1%" will benefit, right? Well, the pool was an expensive, for-profit operation before it folded, so if you couldn't afford it then, why cry about it now? We’d all drive a Porsche if the 1% didn’t conspire to keep us regular folks out of the driver’s seat, right? The new operators are more apt to make it affordable (scholarships, subsidies, etc.), than the previous proprietors. The true 1% around here are the “nattering nabobs of negativism” that post disproportionately on these boards.
Is it better to have a property lie vacant than to support someone who wants to revitalize it without taxpayer money?
Again, will the group take the property off the Williamstown tasx rolls? Currently, the owners are obligated to pay property taxes. This is a simple question, not an ad hominem attack.
There is a dearth of economic activity because few people are willing and able to grow businesses in a tough economy with a declining population. Pools are in the "nice to have" category of a family budget and take up a lot of disposable income that isn't as disposable as it once was. The result is that there are fewer members willing and able to pay for pool access at a market-driven prices. A non-profit can provide enough financing to weather the cash-flow shortages that are sure to accrue, especially in the first years. Many towns, such as Bennington, provide cheap access to a pool so in-lieu of providing a needed service, the town involuntarily shrinks its tax base. This is a win-win.
Non-profits are only a drain if they don't provide a public service. The conspiracy folks should look elsewhere instead of picking on a new non-profit that is fulfilling a need. Instead of complaining about the remnants of former local businesses, I suggest you increase your support to the goods ones that are still here. Preserve them through your patronage!