All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

PADI Scuba Dive Course at North Castle Town Pool

July 7, 2016
Members of the North Castle Town Pool who are in good physical health, able to swim unassisted for 200 yards, and can tread water for 10 minutes are eligable to take scuba diving instructions. Ages 12 and up, or 10 and up when registering with a parent, can enroll in the four-class course at the town pool for two consecutive Saturdays and Sundays, from 8:00 a.m to 10:00 a.m. in mid to late July, or late July to early August.

After completing the pool training and online course, you are qualified to finish the certification process of four open water dives at any other location that offers the remainder requirements for the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Passing the PADI theory and practicality 20-hour course provides a PADI Open Water Diver certificate that will allow you to dive worldwide.

Students should be prepared to attend North Castle Town Pool diving classes with a bathing suit, towel, personal gear of a mask, snorkel, fins, and weight belt.

Enthusiam and dedication are necessary, as is being prepared to be challenged and to have fun. The North Castle Town Pool diving class schedule and further details are here: NCR SCUBA

Town Pool Opens Saturday
By Emily Sherman

May 25, 2016
The Anita Louise Ehrman Pool opens for the season on Saturday May 28. Weather permitting, admission to the pool will be free this Saturday when there will be a DJ and complimentary food from the snack bar from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The pool will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. all weekend.

An early bird discount for a season pass will be available until Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m; new families must register at the Hergenhan Recreation Center. Returning families can easily renew their membership online .

Last year was a bit of an experiment by the North Castle Town Board to see how everyone would react to the pool under the Town's management said Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Recreation & Parks. The community responded well to the pool as a new amenity that’s affordable.

This year, kids 21 and under are considered part of the family pricing rather than 18 and under. Additionally more awnings have been added to provide shade on both sides of the pool. Around 250 members have already signed up, and Trainor expects to at least match last year’s membership of 450 families or about 1,500 members.

North Castle Will Open the ALE Pool with an Eye on the Future

January 26, 2016
The North Castle Town Board unanimously voted to continue to operate the Anita Louis Ehrman Recreation Center at 3 Greenway Road, Armonk. For the second year, the Board voted to renew the licensing agreement with the ALE (Anita Louis Ehrman) non-profit organization, which owns the recreation center that includes two pools, tennis courts and a recreation building on 11 acres.

For almost 50 years, ALE operated the recreation center before it was leased to the privately owned North Castle Pool and Tennis, prior to North Castle taking over the ALE operation in 2015.

Last year, the Town’s budget subsidized $149,289 for the pool that had $362,369 in total expenses with only $213,080 in revenue. In addition, the Town saved $56,000 in 2015 for not having to pay for the Town’s camp use of the ALE pool. Therefore, the 2015 budget presented for the pool was a net loss of $93,289.
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The 2015 seasonal membership price structure was reasonable with multiple variations of $450 for an early bird rate for town resident families versus the non-resident family membership of $950. The seasonal membership fees collected in 2015 were $184,000, plus the total of additional daily guest fees of $15,824.


The 2015 season saw 455 households, or about 1,400 residential and non-residential members. That was more than double what was anticipated, said Matt Trainor, North Castle’s Superintendent of Recreation & Parks. He said about 9% of ALE members were from North White Plains.

On the expense side of the 2015 budget, there was the one-time contractual obligation of $71,660 to take over the pool and to open for the season with the Board of Health’s approval.  The largest portion of the 2015 budgeted expense items was the $116,675 for the yearly licensing fee that the Town has agreed to pay ALE.  

Although the 2016 pool expenses were budgeted to increase about 10%, there is no plan to increase the 2016 membership fees, said Trainor.

With the efforts of Trainor and his staff, 2016 may show more revenue. But Supervisor Michael Schiliro said it’s unknown if there will be an incline or decline in membership from the Town’s first year of operating the pool.

Town Administrator Joan Goldberg conservatively budgeted the ALE pool’s 2016 revenue at $200,000. The projected operating net loss for 2016 is $192,000, less the $56,000 saved on the Town’s camps, which puts the net loss at $136,000.

At the December 9 Town Board meeting, Ann Dantzig questioned the costs of running the pool and the funds allocated in the 2016 budget, including the operational loss. “How high are you willing to go and let this experiment have a loss?” asked Dantzig. “I know how much everybody wants the pool, but you still have to pay the bills.”

Schiliro responded by saying, “That’s the point of not buying it, and not committing to long term.” The Town’s Budget and Finance Advisory Committee recommended that it’s worth it to pay a little more upfront to see if this makes sense in the long run, he added.

Since last year was the first year the town licensed the pool, Dantzig asked, what kinds of things were unexpected in the actual expenses compared to the budgeted expenses?

Schiliro said there were projected costs, but there were anticipated unknown costs such as the additional chairs and work to prepare the pool deck.

The maintenance of the grounds were not included in the budgeted operating expenses; rather, the cost of labor is absorbed as part of the Recreation and Parks Department’s scheduled Town maintenance.

Schiliro said the goal is to break even on the operating side. Talking with other supervisors, he said, most neighboring towns own their pools and properties, but did not do so initially when they had to take on debt. If the Town were to own the pool, the licensing fee would no longer have to be paid. Then, Schiliro said, the pool would become a capital expenditure. The licensing fee is somewhat equivalent to the net operating loss, and eliminating that fee could present a break-even point on the operating side.  

“A year into this,” Trainor said, “We’re a lot smarter and have a much better picture of what’s done and what needs to be done.”  Schiliro agreed, saying that after two years of a licensing agreement we’ll know what the profit and loss looks like.

But Dantzig countered, saying,“It now seems like an extremely generous loss that the Town is absorbing for the few hundred memberships using the pool.”

Although there is no purchasing transaction structured yet for the Town to buy the pool, it’s assumed if North Castle were to buy the pool, there may be some debt involved, depending on how the purchase is structured, said Schiliro.

Zenaida Bongaarts, a 39-year resident of Armonk, said the community pool remains an important part of the town as a way for people and families to get together. “We have to think of this as a community project, not just a project to make money.”

At its January 16, 2016 meeting, newly elected Town Board member Jose Berra said that the pool is important for a lot of residents, especially for the kids in camp and for seniors.

“If the Town did decide to buy the pool, would there be a referendum?” asked Tony Futia, a lifelong resident of North White Plains.

“There are different ways of doing it,” said Town Attorney Roland Baroni. It could require a referendum, but there are different ways for the Town to buy the pool without one.

If the Board were to consider purchasing the pool after the 2016 season, ideally the funding would come from private donations, rather than the Town taking over the approximate $800,000 ALE debt, plus whatever other costs were involved.

During his 2015 campaign, Berra spoke about the use of public property for solar power. If the Town operates the pool for the long term, and if it makes sense, the ALE Pool and Recreation Center seems a great place for solar panels, said Berra.

The alternative source of solar energy could also reduce the cost of heating the 400,000 gallons of water in the two pools, which in 2015 used $13,688 worth of heat and fuel. Grants are available for public solar projects such as this. There’s also the possibility to generate income by selling the energy back to the providers of the solar panels.

Comment

It’s a New Era at the North Castle Town Pool

May 27, 2015
This past weekend was just the beginning of what Town of North Castle residents and elected officials see as a new era for the former Anita Louise Ehrman or North Castle Pool and Tennis Facility located on Greenway Road in Armonk. For the first time, this facility will be a town pool, operated by the North Castle Department of Recreation and Parks and will be known as the North Castle Town Pool.

With the beautiful sunny Memorial Day weekend, the pool opened with a splash. Saturday’s grand opening events included a ribbon cutting ceremony, free admission and food, as well as a DJ for several hours, getting the weekend off to a great start. Over the course of the weekend, people flocked to the pool to enjoy the great weather, the pool, the food and spending time with family and friends.

Town Supervisor, and pool member, Michael Schiliro was at the facility all weekend long along with other Town Officials. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many people, led by Matt Trainor, the official ‘Town Pool’ is a reality. The word that I heard most this weekend was ‘community;’ residents feel a true sense of community at the pool,” said Town Supervisor Schiliro.  

If this past weekend is any indication, the North Castle Town Pool is off to a great start serving as a community pool. The crowds grew steadily over the weekend, with the largest on Monday, filling up a majority of the parking lot. “It’s nice to see the usage getting back to what it was years ago,” said a long term resident. Kids and adults were in the water enjoying the pool, while others were on the deck taking in the sun, and for those that wanted to stay out of the sun; there are several shade structures as well.

“It was great to realize I was walking away at the end of the day with a smile on my face,” said Deputy Supervisor and Recreation and Parks Board Liaison, Stephen D’Angelo.

The reasonable membership fees make joining the pool a very affordable option. According to Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Recreation and Parks, “We are excited about our membership turn out so far and hope that even more people decide to be members. The rates will increase as of June 1, so we hope to have more people come in and take advantage of the early bird discounted rates before then.”  

Membership registration must be done at the Recreation Office located at 40 Maple Ave., Armonk.  Office hours will be extended to allow people more opportunity outside of the regular office hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to sign up for the pool and have their ID pictures taken.

The extended hours are:
Saturday May 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.;
Wednesday June 3 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.;
Saturday June 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.;
Thursday June 11 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.;
and Saturday June 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Pool hours for this summer season are weekends only until June 27 from 10:00 a.m. to – 7:30 p.m. Starting June 28, the pool will be open: weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until the beginning of September.

For membership fees, additional information on membership registration and additional programming at the North Castle Town Pool, visit the website at www.northcastleny.com or call 914-273-3325.

North Castle Summer Pool Permit Rates

Updated May 6, 2015
Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, and staff are preparing the North Castle Town Pool at 3 Greenway Road, Armonk to open on May 23.

There are a number of permit types and incentives to register early. The registration fee will increase on June 1.

Pool registration is in person only at the Parks and Recreation Office at the Hergenhan Recreation Center at 40 Maple Avenue, Armonk. Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted. Photo ID cards for each family member will be issued. Two acceptable proofs of residency must be shown at the time of application. Acceptable proof of residency is a driver’s license, utility bill, etc. Note that a North Castle Library Card or prior years’ permit will not be accepted as proof of residency.

2015 North Castle
Pool Permit Type
Early
Rate
 Regular
 Rate
xx
Town Resident Family $450 $550
Town Resident Individual $200 $300
Town Resident Senior ($65+) $  75 $100
Town Resident Daily
(+$8 per visit)
$100 $175
Town Resident 5 and under
(w/Res. Ind. or Res.
Daily Pass Only)
$  45 $  65
Live in Caretaker/Nanny
(Resident Families ONLY)
 -- $165
XX
Non-resident Family $850 $950
Non-resident Individual $500 $600
Non-resident Senior ($65+) $250 $350
Non-resident 5 and Under
w/Non-resident
Individual Pass ONLY
$95 $105
xx
* School District Family $650 $750
* School District Individual $350 $450
* School District Daily
(+$8 per visit)
$200 $275
* School District 5 and Under
w/School District
Individual Pass ONLY
$  75 $  85

* The School District Passes are for families with children in the Byram Hills School District who are not residents of the Town of North Castle.

Further conditions and general rules are part of the 2015 Pool Permit Application.

The 2015 pool application is available here.

Guest Fees

Guest fees may be paid upon entry to the pool with a full permit only.
Guest fees for adults, 13-years and older, are $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.
Guests fees for children, 12 years and younger are $3 on weekdays and $8 on weekends.   
NO guests are allowed with “daily” permits.
A maximum of two guests per card holder are allowed per day.

North Castle Recreation & Parks Department are hiring lifeguards. Please contact the Recreation & Parks Department for further information: (914) 273-3325 or email: recreation@northcastleny.com.

Lifeguard training is available at Westchester Fairfield Swimming & Lifeguarding: Westfair.com.

Town Board Saves Summer Pool

March 28, 2015
North Castle’s Town Board unanimously decided to sign a short-term license to operate the Anita Louise Ehrman (ALE) Recreation Center for the next seven months. During that time, the Town intends to evaluate how to best operate the pool based upon the membership’s use.

The recreation cost to run the pool, given the estimates of expenses and revenues, is at the premium cost of $149,000 to the community. (This amount includes the $56,000 yearly camp fee that the Town has paid ALE in the past to use the pool.) Although this cost is a premium because of the short-term, one-season lease, the amount was deemed worthy by the Town Board.

Budget and Finance Advisory Committee member Larry Ruisi said, “We have provided the Town the opportunity to see if this will work.” The best the committee could do was come up with estimate costs given the prior financial records of the North Castle’s Pool and Tennis operator over the past three years and ALE’s operation costs prior to that.

The estimated total expenses for the Town to lease and operate the ALE pool for this summer is $306,675.

The cost breakdown is as follows:
  • Estimated operating costs: $160,000
  • Licensing fee: $116,000  is  a lump sum of $50,000, plus; $9,525 paid per month for 7 months = $66,675
  • $30,000 estimated for all the repairs as deemed necessary
The revenue is estimated at $156,500, broken down as follows:
  • Membership fees: $114,000
  • Other: $42,500 (This includes swimming lessons, swim team, lifeguard training, events, aqua aerobics, and more programs, plus guest fees and snack bar.)

Supervisor Mike Schiliro said that the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee was extremely helpful in the process of the financial analysis.

Ruisi said it didn’t make sense to go into a longer-term lease which would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Town Board agreed. “This way we take one year, and at the end of the lease we’ll be a lot smarter and we’ll make an appropriate decision,” said Ruisi. If it doesn’t work, he added, we will be the first ones to say that you can’t do this.

The seven-month timing of the lease was negotiated as the Town’s license fee flows through ALE to pay off the Key Bank mortgage. The Town’s license fee will cover the principal amount, and interest due on the $975,000 mortgage.

Armonk resident Ann Rabinowitz Dantzig said she opposed that the Town is “taking ALE off the hook” because the Key Bank loan has been in arrears since November 2014.

“The pool is a key part of the camp that the Town runs,” says Ruisi, “as is the camp a key part of this community.” They are part of how people look at the community, which he says affects the real estate values in North Castle.

North White Plain residents Ed Lobermann and Tony Futia questioned the sensibility of  taxpayers money being used to lease the pool. They said that they did not see any direct benefits of their tax dollars being used to keep ALE open.  

But Schiliro said, “It was a well-reasoned approach which balanced the opportunity for the Town to operate its own pool with a prudently fiscal approach.”

If the Town Board choose not to lease the pool, there was the possibility of a $125,000 loss in North Castle’s town camp fees. This was the amount that was reportedly lost by the town’s summer camp program during the 2007 summer season when ALE was closed for renovation.

Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Recreation & Parks, has his work cut out for him as he plans  the pool’s operating details over the next 60 days. He anticipates that the pool will open Memorial Day weekend and close on Labor Day weekend.

The estimated cost of $149,000 for the Town to lease the pool is based upon Trainor’s membership projections of 200 families, 100 individuals, and 20 to 30 senior members. But the exact revenue from membership is unknown at this time. Perhaps the pool membership could spike as high as the ALE membership, which peaked at 400 families before the pool’s renovation and the economic crisis of 2008.

The details of the membership fees will be available in the next few weeks, says Trainor. At the Town Board’s meeting on March 25, he said, with the Board’s approval, the early registration family membership will be between $450 and $500, and the early registration single person membership will be $200. The out-of-town membership fee will most likely be slightly less than twice that amount. The fees are significantly lower than the most recent summer membership fees charged by North Castle Pool & Tennis. That is because the Town will lower the membership fee to attract more members.

Pool member Shirley Kaiser said, “It's great that our community's pool will be operated by the Recreation Department. Kids and families need a place to meet during the summer. The experience that Matt Trainor and his recreation staff will bring to the pool can only mean good things in terms of programs for all.”

An evaluation of the pool’s operation at the end of the summer will determine if it makes sense for the Town to renew the lease and if so, for how long. But if the interest in membership isn’t there, the Town can opt to walk away because the Town is not obligated to renew the lease.  

Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto said it is courageous for us to vote yes because there’s a possibility we try and fail. But she said she is voting yes because of the recommendations from the Budget Finance Committee, Supervisor Schiliro and Town Board member Steve D’Angelo who have worked on this and recommended we give this a chance.

If the Town doesn’t renew the lease by October 15, 2015, the responsibility of the mortgage goes back to ALE. If the Town renews the lease after one season, it’s possible to refinance the loan to bring down the payments, but that would require a longer-term commitment from the Town, perhaps five years, says Ruisi.

The Town also has an option to buy the pool for the amount of the mortgage. Purchasing the pool will most likely require a referendum, says Town Attorney Roland Baroni.

Matt Trainor says the Recreation Department is accepting applications for summer lifeguards and Water Safety Instructors. The application link is here; CPR & AED for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Providers must be renewed every year.   

Westchester & Fairfield Swimming and Lifeguarding offer lifeguard training, which includes first aid, CPR and AED. Training is available year-round for participants who are 15 years old and older by the last day of class. For more information call (914) 588-2971 or visit www.westfairswim.com.

Comment

Ehrman Pool Heats Up  
Editorial by Michelle Boyle

March 9, 2015
We know young parents and their kids have used the Ehrman pool and how important it is to the community, said Supervisor Michael Schiliro at the February 25 Town Board meeting.

The Town has several options to consider to bail out the financially strapped Ehrman Pool. The options include the following:
1. Lease and operate the pool for the summer from Anita Louis Ehrman (ALE), the non-profit organization who owns Ehrman Pool;
2. Lease the Ehrman Pool from North Castle Pool & Tennis (NCPT), who have been leasing the pool from ALE for the past three years;
3. Buy the Ehrman Pool, which would require a referendum vote by the residents, which most likely would not pass;
4. Receive the Ehrman Pool as a gift from ALE and take over the debt.

The operating finances and mortgage held on the property are being reviewed. The Town Board awaits the Anita Louis Ehrman Pool Board of Directors to work out the financial details with Key Bank who owns the $975,000 mortgage that is overdue as of the end of February.

Town Board member Steve D’Angelo said he has been working for the past six months with a variety of people to come up with a solution to try to keep the pool open. D’Angelo is waiting for further financial information to determine what the town board will decide and if the town camps will use of the Ehrman Pool for this summer.

But Schiliro said, “Our job is to address the needs of the community, keeping in mind the fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers as well. Perhaps there is a way that the Town can run the pool for a year to make sure we know what we are getting into.” He is considering a test drive to see what the expenses are. No one knows exactly what the membership will be until the pool opens. “We can do all the projections we want, but we won’t know for sure,” added Schiliro. They will continue to work through this to make sure everything is well thought out, he added.

D’Angelo agreed with Schiliro. He said, while the town has expressed some interest in operating the pool this summer, our fiduciary responsibility is to all the taxpayers to make sure we don’t overspend or waste money.

Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, is well versed in aquatic programs and is capable of operating the Ehrman Pool. If the 11-acres of the Ehrman Pool facility, which includes two pools, diving boards, basketball courts, tennis courts, concession stand, and a recreation room, were added to the Town’s 350 acres of parkland, it would nicely round out North Castle’s recreation programs.

Run by the Town, activities would not only include aquatic programs for the daily use of the pool for the Town’s summer camp; there could be a broad array of programs for adults and teens as well. If this is the case, then this summer’s future of the pool depends upon the dedication of the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Part of the financial challenge of the recreation facility is the exclusive use, as for all outdoor pools, only during the summertime. Perhaps the Town could also consider additional year-round uses such as a skating rink on half of the parking lot, or to use the building as a teen center.

Although there is no slide at the pool, the membership has been on a slippery downward slope since its multi-million-dollar renovation in 2007. Given the track record of the ALE financial challenges after the renovation, and then the sinking of the economy during the 2008 recession, some members believe that the Town is best equipped to keep the pool open and to reach out to North Castle’s 12,000 residents for membership.

NCPT and the DiMauro family bailed out the pool in 2012. Joe DiMauro, NCPT’s COO, said they are willing to take over the finances of Ehrman Pool if the Town were to lease, operate, and use the pool for the Town’s summer camp program for an undisclosed amount, although DiMauro has said the yearly lease amount discussed is under $100,000.

Ehrman Pool member Mark Dicintio has faith in the Town Board. He said they recognize the love of the pool and will do the right thing as it appears that they are taking good strides to move forward.

The only thing that wasn’t spoken about at the Town Board meeting was the communications with Key Bank, said Dicintio, who trades syndicated loans, and knows foreclosures are a big concern.

As a pool member, Dicintio has spoken with other members, and said one member has told him he’ll pay whatever it costs (the 2014 membership fee was $1,200 for a family of four) and he is willing to pay more because he doesn’t want the pool taken away. Dicintio added that a lot of people feel the same way.

Dicintio was among the 120 families that were bondholders who lost $1,000 each. It was disturbing, he said, because the bondholders were misinformed about how funds were to be spent. But he said, you just move on.

What’s the ideal membership fee? According to Dicintio, “If membership goes to $1,500, you might see 100 to 120 family sign up. At $1,000, there might be an increase in membership.”

With that logic, the lower the membership fee, the higher the membership number. The highest number of recent family memberships at ALE was 400.

Dicintio agrees with Supervisor Schiliro. He said, “They have to take a step back, evaluate the use of the pool, and then make the best decision for the community. If they drastically lose money, other alternatives have to be considered.”   

The Ehrman Pool remains in the hands of the ALE board. If ALE, as a non-profit organization, maintains the ownership of the pool, they must revive the fundraising tool no matter who operates the pool. Given that the confidence of the ALE board is questionable, perhaps new members can step in to run the organization in a more profitable way.

In the neighboring Town of Bedford, the newly formed Friends of the Bedford Playhouse has raised pledges of $2.5 million in just a few short months. North Castle residents could do the same with the infusion of new innovations from a new board of directors.

Comment

Ehrman Child becomes Ehrman Mom -- Family Town Jewel
by Donna French Buschini

February 27, 2015
Imagine being about 10 years old, the school year is ending and there would be no family vacation planned for the summer. The only good thing about this in Armonk long ago was that your friends would be spending the summer hanging around the neighborhood being as bored as you. But, then you remembered your lazy, fun filled summer days would be spent at the pool down the street. A brand new pool, a place where you would feel comfortable, with old and new friends, being part of our local swim team, the always delicious fries at the snack bar, and dreaming of when you would be old enough to work there as one of the lifeguards.

This is what life was like when I was a kid, growing up in Armonk. It was looking forward to spending Memorial Day through Labor Day at a place that became part of my childhood memories, a very special place -- where friendships grew stronger, and we learned that sometimes those summer vacations didn’t always have to mean getting in a car or a plane and travel to faraway places. Some families couldn’t travel much. We had our town place and it was perfect. I spent every summer there from the day the Anita Louise Ehrman Pool opened for the first time, until I outgrew the swim team. Life was good and the summers were even better.

We grow up and begin to have our own families. I was lucky enough to continue to live in North Castle and had daughters that loved to swim. I knew exactly where they would be spending their summers. I wanted them to have and enjoy the same memories that I had, they did, and then some. Towns like North Castle can be special that way.

The moment I walked in with my daughters to become members, I felt like I was at home. The feeling of small town families enjoying moments in the sun was a definite draw to having me be part of this experience for many years. Instead of being on the swim team, I had the joy of watching the team. I felt like I graduated from being a swim team member to being a Swim Team Mom. I wasn’t alone in having that feeling, there were generations of Armonk families who were bringing in their children and grandchildren to be part of this great place. There was the ever present “Kiddie Pool”, the always annoying “Adult Swims” (which now were treasured by some) and the swim team awards dinners. The birthday parties celebrated on the deck were part of the growing up experience, along with sitting under the lifeguard chair when behavior warranted a little quiet time. That was my life for another ten perfect years at the town pool that all could join.

When I read that there is the potential this pool might close, I can honestly say that my heart hurt just a bit. For those that had spent their youth there, for those who joined when they moved into the town, for the children that participate on the teams and those who just need a place to celebrate the joy of summer – closing this pool would be so wrong. It is a small little jewel that gives families a place to go. We all can’t manage the fantasy vacation, but to many, this small little part of summer is all the vacation they need. It’s a home, a place to feel safe, a family of friends and smiling strangers that we haven’t met yet. It’s history, it’s a memorial honoring a young girl, Anita Louise Ehrman, whose parents knew just how many people would appreciate their family gift and enjoy the many moments that could be spent at her pool summer after summer.

If there is anything that can be done to keep this pool open and available as one of the best vacation spots you can ever visit by driving cross town, do it. Sometimes money spent on the little things in life mean the most and in this case it can make the difference between a kid just hanging out, getting bored, looking for mischief, or having a vacation at our small little town pool.

Comment

Ehrman Pool Still in a Deep Freeze

Updated February 23, 2015
Joseph DiMauro is chief operating officer of the North Castle Pool & Tennis Club (NCPT). The recreation facility is located on Greenway Road in Armonk and was built by the Ehrman family in 1964 as a memorial for their daughter, Anita Louise. The facility is owned by the Anita Louis Ehrman Foundation (ALE), a non-profit organization. The pool had been renovated in 2006 and 2007 and has run into financial hardships ever since. DiMauro has leased the club from ALE, and has brought them in the black over the past three years. His leasing contract is up for renewal at the end of February.

PRIVATE MEETING

DiMauro, who also serves as chairman of the North Castle Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said that he had a constructive meeting on Friday, February 20 to hammer out the details of North Castle’s future use of the Ehrman Pool. At that meeting, DiMauro met with Chris Yaroscak, chairman of the ALE board; two members of North Castle’s Budget and Finance Advisory Board; Steve D’Angelo, North Castle deputy supervisor who is also the Town Board liaison to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board; and Town Attorney Roland Baroni who was conferenced in via telephone.

DiMauro said that the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board has urged the Town Board since January 2014 to work out the details of the town camp’s use of a pool for its summer program.

At Friday’s meeting, two options were discussed for the Town to consider:  one is that DiMauro has an option to renew his managing lease for another three years. He said that he has new financing in place and is willing to take over the current Key Bank mortgage for $8,600 a month on a mortgage of $975,000. Key Bank is calling in the loan that is contracted to be due soon. DiMauro said that the other option that the Town wants to explore is if Key Bank is willing to extend the loan. "But," he said, “that’s a long shot.”

During a prior meeting with town officials, DiMauro said that the town’s interest to lease and manage the pool for five years was discussed. At Friday’s meeting, he said that the town offered a variation, to lease and manage the pool for only two years, with options for less money. He would not reveal the lease amount, but said that it’s more than $55,000, and less than $100,000 for each year of the two years. DiMauro said that he is agreeable to the terms.

However, D’Angelo countered that the ALE group owns the pool, so if anyone is going to deal with the town, they are the ones to deal with.

ALE Chairman Chris Yaroscak has not yet returned our e-mail to comment on this matter.

TOWN CAMP POOL

Last year, North Castle paid NCPT $55,000 for the use of the pool for its summer camps. This year’s bids for the town camps’ use of a pool were due on February 17. This year, as last year, the town received only one bid which was from the NCPT.

The Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, which advises the Town Board on town operating finances, will offer an opinion to the town on the costs to lease and/or operate a pool for the town camp program and general summer use.

By law, the Town Board is required to request bids for use of a pool for the town camp programs. In a February 16 e-mail, DiMauro recommended that bids for the use of a pool for the town camp, which were due the following day, be delayed until “such time that the specifications can be considered as for the best course of action in regard to the town camp.”

The Town Board’s agenda for its February 25 meeting came out after DiMauro’s Friday morning meeting. The following line appeared on the agenda: “Consider rejection of the bid for swimming pool rental for summer camp.” Supervisor Mike Schiliro said that NCPT’s bid is non-conforming because it is to operate the pool, not to rent the pool for camp.

After Friday’s meeting, D’Angelo said, “The Town Board is doing everything possible to get something done as soon as we can [in order to] make the decision.” He added that he has been working on this situation for the past six months and that the decision to consider to lease the pool for the summer camp should have been made a while ago.

D’Angelo continued, “If you ask me where the best place to have the camp pool is, it’s obviously the place closest to the camp, so the kids are on the bus the least amount of time. But, unfortunately, that is not the only criterion we can send out to bid.” When considering a pool bid, D’Angelo said the bid has to meet the criteria set by the town and to be practical for the town.

For at least the past three years, the only pool options (of where the town camp were to be held) were limited to a seven-mile radius from the site of the town camp, commented D’Angelo.

At the December 10, 2014 Town Board meeting, the distance for pools to be able to bid on being used by the town camps was extended to a 10-mile radius, increasing the allowed driving distance of camps by three miles. The question then is: how far do parents want their children to travel on the bus to camp?

“I wonder if increasing the distance by a few miles gives us more pools that are willing to bid,” said Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto at the December 10 meeting.  

DiMauro remarked that the boundaries allowed for the camps’ pool were extended to include Rocky Ledge Pool in North White Plains. In fact, in an e-mail dated February 15, DiMauro said, “It now seems to me that some Board members think that Rocky Ledge is a good alternative.”

At the December 10 Town Board meeting, Matt Trainor, Superintendent of Recreation and Parks, said that, in 2006 when the Ehrman pool was under construction, town campers swam at Rocky Ledge Pool. He added that the use of that pool resulted in a substantial loss to the town’s camp program of more than $100,000.

NCPT MEMBERSHIP AND MAINTENANCE

In an e-mail dated February 16, DiMauro stated that when the ALE opened, and then when NCPT took over, membership rose and people put their children back in camp. But the numbers came down last year when they shortened the camp week. He said that the loss was incurred due to the lack of participation during that shortened week.

Another issue brought up in the comment section to a prior article about this topic in allaboutarmonk.com is that the NCPT membership fee is too high. Pool members seem to support the pool, but say that its membership is too expensive. Last year’s membership fee for a family of four was $1,200. If the town were to lease the pool, they would have to reconsider the rate structure in order to try to drive up membership.

Armonk resident Brendon Molloy posted a comment on Facebook which stated that, with the town running the pool, the rate can be no more than $800 per family. “If they don’t make money, our taxes absorb it.”

Not everyone agrees that their taxes should go towards the pool's operations. The town has fees of $400,000 in a Recreation Fund that is money derived from new development in North Castle. These funds are designated for new town parks and recreation. If the town were to take over the Ehrman Pool from NCPT or ALE, the recreation funds should be considered, if possible, to be used to subsidize the membership of the new North Castle recreation facility at the Ehrman Pool.

There are also other concerns about the status of the pool and who is involved with its fate. Armonk resident Annie Dantzig said that DiMauro should step down a head of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board due to a conflict of interest as COO of NCPT and his position as chairman of the town advisory board. She said that, as being in that position, he cannot do the job to which he has been appointed, even if must recuse himself, as he says he does, from the discussions about the NCPT/Ehrman Pool.

Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Member Dan Zenkel has been representing the advisory board in regard to the NCPT. Zenkel said that when he appeared before the Town Board in December 2014 when he urged the board to address the issue of the pool's future, he expressed the advisory board's concern that, “without access to a pool, the town camp could incur substantial operating losses.”   

An important issue that was discussed at the Town Board’s February 11 work session was the heating of the 700,000-gallon pool. There are areas that are 25 feet deep, yet the pool is only heated by a two-inch pipe line, which is not sufficient, said DiMauro. There needs to be a six-inch line, he added. For the entire month of last May, he tried heating the pool with propane and says it still didn’t get to 70 degrees. Members have said that they are not pleased about swimming in a pool that is not sufficiently heated.

DiMauro said all of this information should have been presented during the February 11 work session, but he was not made aware that the meeting, even though it was published on the town website and the agenda e-mailed to residents.

“NCPT Membership decreased from 240 families to about 140 families because of population migration and the new facility, Life Time Fitness in West Harrison,” he said. “Life Time was offering a one-time, $350 family membership for a family of four, per month. I believe we lost about 40 families to that new facility. However, they were crowded and it was not a family atmosphere like our pool on Greenway. I believe, with an effort by the town and others, we could turn that around as I did three years ago.”

At the February 20 meeting, DiMauro remarked that it was said then that the town hadn’t been hearing from anyone who wanted a town pool.

Therefore, after Friday’s meeting, DiMauro posted a statement on Facebook, asking for support. "Please show your support for our pool at the next Town Board meeting on Wednesday February 25," he posted. "We are trying to keep this tradition going and really need the community to support this effort.” Signed, "North Castle Pool and Tennis Club LLC."

“We need community people to come to the next town board meeting,” said DiMauro. “If the residents want the pool, they have to let the Town Board know that they have to figure this out.”

Not only does DiMauro want the town camp to be held at NCPT, he also agrees that the Town should operate the pool. He also added, "If I have to, I’ll do it.”

COMMENT

Ehrman Pool Under Water Again

Updated February 25, 2015
Ehrman Pool Lifesavers have been requested in two recent emails from Armonk’s Anita Louise Ehrman Recreation Center (ALE) Board of Directors to meet to discuss the developments regarding the pool.

Back in 2005 when a community effort was undertaken to rebuild the pool, more than 20 individual North Castle residents, referred to as Lifesavers, agreed to become guarantors for $60,000 each against a loan of more than $1.25 million that was incurred to reconstruct the ALE Recreation Center. The ALE, located on Greenway Road, was closed at the end of the 2005 summer season for construction and re-opened the summer of 2007.

While the non-profit ALE organization has remained the owner of the property for the purposes of permits and taxes, the ALE Board members ran into some financial problems after opening the pool in 2007. The ALE spent over $3 million on the ALE renovation; $1.5 million was from its own funds, the bondholders paid about $500,000 in capital, and ALE reportedly borrowed $1.25 million from the bank with the Lifesafers as guarantors.

In 2012, North Castle Pool & Tennis (NCP&T), under a licensing agreement, managed the pool and assumed all of ALE’s financial responsibilities of over $1.3 million of bank debt, creditors and outstanding vendor bills. North Castle resident Joe DiMauro is NCP&T's Chief Operating Office. He paid off approximately $350,000 in debt, interest and legal fees, and has the option to buy the property. DiMauro, who is a financial broker in the oil industry, indicated, until recently, that he was going to exercise the option to buy the pool. However, now as the licensing agreement is coming to an end on February 28, 2015, DiMauro has “decided to move in a different direction,” according to the ALE Board of Directors' December 27 email.

DiMauro also holds the position of Chairman of North Castle’s Recreation Advisory Board. He says to avoid any conflict of interest, he recuses himself when there are any discussions about the Ehrman Pool with North Castle's Recreation Board.

During the past three years that NCP&T operated the Ehrman Pool, DiMauro structured a multi-year plan to rebuild and improve the financial standing of the pool. Ideally, he said, he would prefer the pool to be run by either the Town of North Castle or a new ALE board.

In 2011, DiMauro said his objective was to have the pool break-even and then see if the Town of North Castle would either buy the facility or license it to an individual or company with experience managing a recreation center. DiMauro said he had discussions about an ice-skating rink at the facility, and if pursued, that should involve partners in that business.

DiMauro had never operated a pool before but he had the support from his family; his wife, Marie, was the Chief Financial Officer, and their two teenage daughters worked at the front desk and snack bar.

According to the ALE email, for several months in 2014, NCP&T tried to negotiate the sale of the pool with the Town of North Castle. In order to accelerate these negotiations, NCP&T stopped making the mortgage payments at the end of 2014. The email says this action led the Town to offer to lease and manage the pool for the next five years. DiMauro says there are still ongoing negotiations with the Town to operate the pool at the start of the 2015 season.

The ALE Board is considering several possibilities:  
• Ask Key Bank to extend the loan agreement of $960,000, which is due on February 28, 2015
• Finance the loan with another bank
• A Takeover of the mortgage by DiMauro, who says he would do so to insure the property doesn’t fall in the hands of developers
• Collectively finance the loan by some Lifesavers as an investment that they proposed to “provide a return on the investment with the property being the collateral”

The last option was presented by the Lifesavers after the NCP&T had offered to assume the loan balance of $960,000 from Key Bank.

In order for the NCP&T to assume the mortgage, the Town would lease and manage the pool. The December 27 ALE email requested that the Lifesavers each contribute $12,000 to offset the operational losses incurred by NCP&T. This amount was intended to pay back DiMauro’s expenditures, which he says he would reduce to $275,000. The email further specified that the requested donation of $12,000 from the Lifesavers would be tax deductible when donated to ALE, a non-profit organization. “This contribution would release the Lifesavers of their $60,000 guarantees.”

The guarantors who have met with the ALE Board of Directors were not receptive to donating $12,000. Rather, they offered to invest in financing the outstanding loan while the Town fully maintains and operates the pool for the next five years. “The goal is that once the principal of the loan is reduced, the Town will purchase the pool for the value of the outstanding principal,” says a second ALE email.   

Ever since its founding in 1964 by the Ehrman family, Armonk’s town pool has been a gathering place for the community’s children and families. The ALE Board of Directors is a volunteer board of five or six members that have overseen the operations of the privately owned, non-profit enterprise since 1965. The outdoor facilities include a heated outdoor pool with zero grade entry, mushroom fountain, plunge pool, lap pool, and diving pool, separate kiddie pool, large outdoor dining area, two tennis courts, basketball court, concrete terrace for table tennis, and a 180-car parking lot. There is a 3,500 square-foot pool house with a men’s and a women’s locker room, concession area and lifeguard station.

In 2009, the ALE Board sent an email to its 230 members (down from 400 family members prior to the 2008 financial crisis) outlining the financial distress of the ALE. Due to the decline in membership after the club reopened, the ALE could not afford to repay the loans for the reconstruction of the pool complex.  

The ALE Board of Directors said to avoid closing of the pool in 2011, they offered to gift the pool to the Town of North Castle for the outstanding bank and bondholders’ debt. At that time, they felt this amount was significantly less than the property value of the 11 acres, which was listed for sale for $1.7 million.

In November 2011, a group of residents, who were members of the pool, appealed to the North Castle Town Board to keep the community pool alive. The Town did not have a viable means to purchase the pool then since there was no money in the budget. In addition, there was a concern then, and still is, that if the Town were to purchase the pool, such action would require a voters' referendum which might not pass.

When Joe DiMauro learned of the possibility of the pool closing, he felt he couldn’t stand by and do nothing. "Recreation is not my business," said DiMauro. “But we couldn't let the pool be bulldozed.” In 2012, his goal was to put the club’s financial operations in the black over the next two years.

Although DiMauro wasn’t sure what the exact number of bondholder members were in 2012, he was certain it consisted of more than 200 families. Prior to NCP&T taking over the management of Ehrman Pool, the ALE members were asked to become bondholders at $1,000 each, an amount which was to be fully refundable. Afterwards, however, NCP&T offered only two options to the bondholders. The first option allowed them to donate the bond to ALE and receive a tax deduction and a multi-year coupon toward a yearly membership, worth a discount of $100. The other option allowed the bondholders to request NCP&T to "pay bonds back on a pro-rata basis after the second consecutive year of profitability.” The bondholders never received any money back.

DiMauro said that under NCP&T the pool’s operating expenses were $300,000 per year, down from $425,000 under ALE. The revenues were equivalent to about $300,000. One revenue source for NCP&T is the Town's recreational summer camp programs. North Castle campers have used the ALE pool as part of the town camp program for years. Three years ago, the yearly fee paid to use the pool by the Town camps increased from $35,000 to $55,000.

If the Town were to manage the pool, their labor costs would be less because the pool would be managed by North Castle's Recreation Department, and the accounting would be handled by the Finance Department.

After the ALE Recreation Center was under distress, the 11 acres were listed for sale. The real estate listing said there were endless possibilities for expansion on the current use or residential land development. The property is tied into town sewer, but not town water. There is also a significant amount of wetlands on the property.

Comment

Hometown Pool
Oct. 27, 2011

The Anita Louise Ehrman (ALE) Board of Directors is made up of a volunteer board that has overseen the operations of the privately owned non-profit enterprise since 1965. The Board sent an email to its 230 members outlining the current financial distress of the Anita Louise Ehrman Recreation Center.

Due to the decline in membership, they cannot afford to repay the loans for the 2006 reconstruction of the pool complex. 

The ALE board members said that to avoid having to close the pool, they have offered to sell it to the Town of North Castle for the current outstanding bank and bondholders’ debt. They feel this amount is significantly less than the property value of the 12 acres. The ALE Board claims the other option is to sell the pool on the open market, and they have hired a broker to do so.

At the Town Board's meeting on October 26, 2011, Supervisor Bill Weaver said they have been in discussions with the ALE Board for six months. The Financial Task Force is studying the cost analysis of operating the pool, and the Town Board will have an appraisal performed on the property's worth. Weaver said the information will be made available to the public.

Councilman Becky Kittredge said, "We are investigating how to keep the pool in our town without a referendum." Kittredge said the town camp at the Community Park could be moved to the pool; in addition, it could become a recreation place for our teens to go, instead of hanging out at the Kent Place parking lot at night.

If the Town is interested in owning the pool, and if a bond is required to cover the outstanding loans, a town referendum would be required; in this instance, North Castle residents would have the opportunity to vote on the issue.

Councilman Diane Roth said she and her family used the ALE, and she feels as though she should apologize for not stepping up sooner to save the pool. “The Town Board needs to realize that this is part of our community,” said Roth.   

A group of residents that are ALE members, some for three generations, spoke out. Resident Shirley Kaiser's family has been a six-year member of the ALE. She said the potential for recreational programs for the town's use of the complex and the aquatic state-of-the-art ALE pools includes a summer camp, swimming and diving teams, basketball and tennis lessons, ping pong tournaments and aquatic programs for seniors. She added that the facility is a source of jobs for high school students and community members, as well as a host for special events; potentially, it could be partnered with corporate and local businesses.

Resident Cheryl Maselli summed it up well. “When I moved into Armonk, it was the greatest little town. We had the Cider Mill and now that’s gone. We've lost our hometown touch. If we don't have this pool and someone else, other than the town, buys it, he or she is not going to keep it as a pool. Instead, it will become another development. It's not just a place for play dates for kids; it's a play date for adults too. After joining another pool and then coming back to ALE after the rebuild, it was like coming home. We can't afford to lose another great thing in our town."
Comment