The Examiner

No. Castle Approves Ehrman Pool Agreement, Releases Cost Projections

We are part of The Trust Project
The North Castle Town Board unanimously approved the license agreement to operate the Ehrman Pool this summer.
The North Castle Town Board unanimously approved the license agreement to operate the Ehrman Pool this summer.

Armonk’s Anita Louise Ehrman Pool received at least a one-year reprieve when the North Castle Town Board unanimously approved a license agreement last week to  operate the facility for this summer.

Key terms of the agreement, which runs from Apr. 1 through Oct. 31, includes the town paying an upfront fee of $50,000, plus a monthly charge of $9,525 for the next seven months, to the Anita Louise Ehrman (ALE) Recreation Center, the nonprofit organization which ran the pool through 2011 and holds the mortgage on the debt. Those costs do not include operating expenses, liability insurance and $30,000 for repairs.

Total costs for the first year are projected to be about $306,000 while membership fees are anticipated to generate $114,000 and other programming about $43,000, officials said. Now that the town will operate the pool, it can save the $56,000 it has been paying so children attending the town day camp have a place to swim.

If the projections are accurate, the pool would cost the town about $93,000 for this summer, according to members of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, which helped the town board analyze costs and revenues.

The agreement also allows the town to exercise an option to pick up one-year extensions after each summer for up to four years. As part of the approval, there is also an option for the town to buy the pool during the course of the agreement, although it is under no obligation to do so.

Board members said they struggled with the issue for several months.

“I don’t think I can just close the door on this pool without at least trying,” said Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto. “It may go down…as an expensive failure. I would rather not sit back and wonder what we could have done but didn’t.”

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the agreement with ALE enables the town to keep the Greenway Road pool open for now but limits its financial exposure by allowing it to opt out after the summer. Officials must inform ALE of the town’s intentions for 2016 at least two weeks before Oct. 31.

Schiliro stressed that the membership and revenue projections were budgeted conservatively by design because the town hasn’t operated the facility before.

“The one piece that you never know when you enter into something like this is what will the reception be by the community, what will be the revenue generated by the community,” he said. “You don’t know it until you do it, but in my opinion, I think the approach here, which is a short-term approach versus committing to a long-term approach, if it doesn’t work the way you want it, you’re (not) tied to it. This way it affords us the opportunity to evaluate it once the season is over.”

While membership fees had not been finalized as of last week, Recreation Superintendent Matt Trainor said he’s estimating that for a resident family, an early bird rate would be $450 to $500 and $550 to $600 for later registration. For individuals, he’s exploring a $200 fee for early birds and $300 for late registrants.

While supporters urged the board to save the pool at previous public meetings, the reaction at last Wednesday night’s was mixed. Armonk resident Ann Dantzig quizzed the board on estimated expenses and revenues, then asked what each council member would consider an acceptable cost for the summer. Schiliro said that he was looking for an expense between $50,000 and $100,000 to operate the pool.

“So if you are willing to lose 50 or $100,000 on this, I wish you would have thought about putting that money towards the roads,” Dantzig said. “Because I’m living on a road that’s falling apart and it’s been falling apart or four or five years now.”

Another resident, Neal Baumann, countered that not every resident uses every town service. He also wondered how much the town would lose in camp revenue if there was no pool for campers to swim.

“Not everyone uses the library, but we’re willing to fund the library because we think it’s important, we think it’s an important service,” Baumann said. “Not everybody’s going to use the pool but we think maybe it’s an important thing as part of our community.”

The last time the town camp operated without a pool it was in the red for $102,000, a negative swing of more than $120,000 compared to the previous year, Trainor said.

“The biggest flood of phone calls that I’ve been getting (from parents), and I think the board is well aware of this, is essentially no pool, no camp,” he said.

North White Plains residents Ed Lobermann and Anthony Futia both criticized the board’s support as unnecessarily risky. Lobermann said his property values won’t rise “one iota” while Futia said there were too many unknown factors.

Councilman Stephen D’Angelo said that if it doesn’t work out, the board will not expose the taxpayers to further fiscal liability.

“We’re going to know that if (the public) is not coming out to this pool, it’s not going to happen in the future,” D’Angelo said.



We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.