WILLIAMSTOWN -- Thanks to three key donations, a local nonprofit is closer to purchasing and preserving a community tradition.
The Sand Springs Recreational Center announced in a press release last Friday that it received donations from Williamstown Savings Bank, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and an anonymous donor. From these and other donations, along with a "challenge grant" promising to match any donation, the SSRC has raised $35,000 in less than a month toward its goal of buying Sand Springs Pool.
"The board is delighted with the outpouring of support from the community since the launch of the challenge grant," SSRC President Janette Dudley said. "We have achieved 70 percent of our capital campaign goal, but we don't have much time left."
In the past eight months, a capital campaign to purchase, improve and operate the Sand Springs Pool has raised more than $405,000. The nonprofit still has to raise $170,000 to reach its goal of $575,000. They must do this by March 15, when the purchase agreement it signed with the current owners will run out.
One of the only thermal springs in the Northeast, the water at Sand Springs averages 72 degrees year-round. The Wampanaug Inn and Bath House was built on the site in 1907. The George family purchased the property in 1950 and operated it for more than 50 years before selling it to Wampanaug Springs, Inc. in 2003. Under Wampanaug's ownership, the facility was completely renovated and updated. The current owners have decided to discontinue operations and have been trying to sell the facility for several years.
Steve Crowe, director and former CEO of Williamstown Savings Bank, said in the press release the bank is very pleased to support the preservation of a "community treasure."
"They have completed an impressive amount of preparatory work and are approaching this process in a manner that will lead to a successful and sustainable re-opening of the pool as a community gathering place," Crowe said.
The group envisions The Springs opening in June and serving as a community meeting space. Dudley said private and semi-private swimming lessons will be held for children in the community, and making that affordable is a priority.
"We plan to offer scholarships for kids in the area that can't afford the program," she said.
Dudley said the group has approached the Williamstown Youth Center about integrating Sand Springs into the center's summer camp program. Youth Center Executive Director David Rempell said the center is excited about the group's efforts.
"Having swim lessons available for children in the community throughout the summer is very appealing," Rempell said in the press release. "Assuming transportation and logistics can be worked out, we think this will be a valuable offering for the Youth Center."
Dudley said as the deadline approaches, the nonprofit will be submitting grant applications to local banks and some private institutions.
"We'll also continue our personal meetings with individual donors and will continue with mailings to individuals in the area," she said.
She added the group will host information sessions and a fundraiser, with dates to be announced.
"We are asking everyone who cares about our community's youth, who supports historic preservation, who enjoys outdoor recreation, who believes every child should learn to swim, or who is looking for that ‘third place,' to give as generously as they can," Dudley said.
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