It does not make fiscal sense for the township to purchase the Newtown Swim Club and turn it into a public facility, the Board of Supervisors concluded Wednesday night.
That's because to purchase it, the township would have to fork over $10 million, according to an analysis by township Manager Kurt Ferguson.
Swim Club owner David Platt is planning to close the club after this summer. He is working with County Builders to construct a residential community on the 16.5-acre site, located on Newtown Yardley Road.
But many members don’t want to see the club closed and have asked the township to look into operating it similar to the community pool in Lower Makefield Township.
During a Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, Ferguson said the township would need to generate at least $1.4 million annually to break even on such a facility.
That’s assuming the property was purchased for $10 million, the figure Ferguson used in his analysis based on the current bid for the property. The debt service needed for such a purchase would be $727,000 a year, he said.
Ferguson said operating costs would likely be about $680,000 annually.
That means, to make it financially viable, 2,800 families, 550 couples and 550 single members would need to purchase memberships.
The data is based on an annual family membership fee of $440, which is the rate Lower Makefield charges, Ferguson explained.
Those numbers are just not realistic, the supervisors believe.
“There’s 19,000 people in Newtown Township. You’d have to have two out of every three people as a member of this,” said board Chairman Mike Gallagher.
The supervisors also took issue with the current bid price for the property.
“I think the price of $10 million is just ridiculous,” board member Rob Ciervo said.
“To somehow believe these 16 acres, unless there is gold underneath, is worth $10 million is just ridiculous. In reality, this property is not worth more than $3 million.”
Plus, with the facility more than 50 years old, repairs to the pools would likely be necessary.
Gallagher said he was present at a meeting earlier this week that was organized by residents interested in saving the pool. Owner Geraldine Platt, who was in attendance, told the residents at that meeting that the 53-year-old pools will need to be replaced soon, according to Gallagher.
Even Platt herself said the residents would be better off looking at a different piece of land to put a community pool, Gallagher said.
County Builders has submitted an application to the township for a 56-townhouse development on the site. The application is currently under review by the township.