Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The Final Bell Tolls For Huntingdon Valley Swim Club

The Valley Club had faced years of financail decline. A racial-discrimination allegation added to the woes.

The Final Bell Tolls For Huntingdon Valley Swim Club

Space constraints kept my story in today's Daily News from including the entire e-mail that Valley Club president John Duesler sent to members this week, announcing the pending bankruptcy of the small, Huntingdon Valley swimming pool.  So I'll paste in Duesler's letter, in full, right here:

"Friends and Families of The Valley Club,  

"I am writing with a heavy heart to inform you that The Valley Club will be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week. 

"And while many will point towards our legal situation and negative media exposure this summer as the reason for this decision, the truth is that the club has struggled to stay out of the red for at least the last decade.  Despite our most ambitious efforts and countless hours of dedication towards the club, we have been unable to grow our membership enough to sustain The Valley Club any longer.  Indeed, we have not been profitable, for as long as I’ve been with the club.  And our current debt from this year’s operation and legal fees now exceeds $100,000.  

 "Combining this business fact with our legal proceedings, the Board of Directors has solicited feedback from our bond-holders to see how we should proceed into the future.  With nearly 400 letters mailed to our current bond-holders, and less than 50 returned, apathy was clearly the tone that won the day.  

"Of those who were willing to respond to our request for guidance, the result was as follows…

"We sent out 384 letters to bondholders asking for guidance and financial support.

"41 responses total   

"$1100 collected in total from bondholders   we need over 200,000

"19 wanted to mount a defense and 10 of those said to sell or bankruptcy to do this 

"22 wanted no defense and to either sell or bankruptcy.  

"In addition, we have also emailed you, last year’s members, and have understandably received a collective shrug of the shoulders…we are all tired and beaten down and just sickened by how our club has been improperly portrayed.  After speaking to many members, my sense is that mostly everyone wants to move on.  

"We have, and continue to, work with the Lower Moreland township to see if there is anyway that they could help maintain the land as a resource for our community.  That has yet to be determined, as the township, like so many local governments around the nation, are facing incredible fiscal challenges that do not leave much wiggle-room for pop-up opportunities, such as this.  

 "Upon a thorough review of all these factors over the course of the summer, as well as deep into this fall, the Board of Directors voted last week 5-1 to file for bankruptcy.  

"Please know that this Board has done everything in its power to find a reasonable solution to, not just the declining memberships, but the legal remedies too.  Yet, as with so many things that we face in life today, much of our challenges ame down to a matter of money!  Money!  Money!  While our club has great heart and character, money is a resource of which we have been perpetually short.  

 "We do wish all of you the best, and we look forward to seeing you again within our community of families and friends. 

"Finally, thanks for all your dedication to the swim club that you’ve shown over your tenure there.  We are glad that you chose the club. 

"Dr. John G. Duesler, Jr.

"President, The Valley Club Board of Directors"

 

About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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