North Castle officials tentatively reached an agreement last week with the Anita Louise Ehrman (ALE) Recreation Center to operate the Greenway Road pool in Armonk this summer.
The town board is scheduled to vote during Wednesday night’s meeting whether to authorize Supervisor Michael Schiliro to sign the agreement that would run through Oct. 31. The town would pay the nonprofit ALE a specific amount of money to operate the aquatic facility.
Details of the agreement will not be divulged until Wednesday’s board meeting, Schiliro said, including the town’s financial obligations and the status of the $975,000 that still needed to be paid to Key Bank, which extended financing on an original $1.25 million note.
Councilman Stephen D’Angelo confirmed Monday the bank note is still in place. There hadn’t been payments on it since last fall and there was the risk of a default.
Schiliro had said previously that he and the board wanted the facility to be available for use by town residents, but they needed to have a firm grasp on the town’s fiscal responsibilities in a licensing agreement. Officials were also against buying the pool at this time.
“It provides us the opportunity to use it for a year,” Schiliro said last week of the pending agreement. “The town has use of a pool, and if it’s working properly, we can come back for a second year.”
For the past three years, North Castle Pool and Tennis has operated the facility for ALE. Town resident Joseph DiMauro, the principal at ALE, informed the organization late last year that it would not continue in that capacity. ALE had sought an operator for the pool after it ran into financial difficulty stemming largely from the 2006 refurbishment project.
When reached over the weekend, ALE President Chris Yaroscak said he was “very excited” about the prospects of the pool being operated by the town this summer but refrained from making further comments.
D’Angelo, who was involved in the negotiations, said a large majority of residents that have communicated with him on the issue want the town to operate the pool and not see the facility shuttered.
“If I didn’t think there was support for the pool, we wouldn’t have put this much effort into it for one year,” he said.
However, a big consideration for the town was making sure that the children attending this summer’s town day camp had access to a pool. D’Angelo acknowledged that many parents let it be known that they wanted their kids to be able to swim or they would likely make other plans.
Despite the obligations, North Castle would be able to save the roughly $55,000 it has been paying each year for campers to have access to the pool.
Although Schiliro and D’Angelo said there is widespread support, at the March 11 town board meeting one resident sharply criticized the town for considering taking over a money-losing facility.
Armonk resident Ann Dantzig told the board that the town is being “held hostage” by a small group of community members who want the convenience of a local pool at a low membership cost.
“ALE couldn’t make a go of it, North Castle Pool and Tennis couldn’t make a go of it, the town didn’t want the risk back in 2012 based on the recommendations of the Finance Committee,” Dantzig said. “The town should not gamble and take on this financial risk.”
Schiliro said that most of the feedback he has received about the pool has been positive, but that it was the board’s responsibilities to balance that with financial common sense. He added that the pool doesn’t have to necessarily make money since it’s a service through the Recreation Department program, but the board also has to act prudently.
With Recreation Superintendent Matt Trainor’s aquatic background, Schiliro was optimistic the Ehrman pool was something the town could handle.
“There has been a lot of passion in conversation about the pool,” Schiliro said. “Some people have been going there for 40 years and they want (it) to continue.”