December 5, 2012 – Many people have fond memories of the historic Sand Springs Pool in Williamstown. Few realize, however, that it is for sale, and may never open again unless it is saved by the local community. It’s sink or swim.
A newly formed nonprofit – the Sand Springs Recreational Center (SSRC) – announced today that it has raised $350,000 to purchase, improve, and operate the Sand Springs Pool. The total goal is $575,000. In addition to a generous gift by Williams College, lead gifts have been received by Josiah and Penelope Low, an anonymous donor, and the Alice Shaver Foundation.
“The college is pleased to be able to support the Sand Springs Recreational Center in its efforts to preserve this historic local resource and expand its outreach to the community," said Jim Kolesar, Assistant to the President for Public Affairs at Williams College. “In particular, the Samuelson Swim Academy looks to broaden the recreational and educational offerings available to all ages, especially children and young people, throughout Williamstown and beyond.”
As SSRC launches its public campaign, Josiah and Penelope Low, an anonymous donor, the Alice Shaver Foundation, and several other donors have jointly pledged $80,000 towards a challenge grant that is being launched today. Every dollar donated to the pool effort by March 1, 2013 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the above donors.
Sand Springs has been a jewel of the northern Berkshire region for nearly 250 years. The curative properties of the pure spring water and the bucolic setting have attracted residents and tourists for generations. One of the only thermal spas in the Northeast, the water of Sand Springs bubbles to the surface at a mean temperature of 72 degrees throughout the year. 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. Although it was opened briefly last summer, the owners have no plans to open it in the future.
The Sand Springs Springwater Company, owned by Maxine and Jennifer Morin, has existed on the property above the pool since 1893, and was the site of the former four-story Greylock Hotel and the smaller Sand Springs House.
“We hope that everyone who has fond memories of the pool, who uses the pool today, who recognizes the value of preserving our historical treasures, or who believes in the benefits of informal community gathering places, will give generously to this effort,” said lead donor and SSRC board member Josiah Low.
In early 2011, Janette Kessler Dudley, current President of SSRC, was concerned about the fate of Sand Springs, and was approached by others with similar concerns. She began hosting organizational meetings that evolved into a grassroots committee and then the current nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status. The goal was not only to save the pool, but also to transform it from a pool and spa into a true community organization. “We are excited to launch this challenge grant and hope that the community will respond to our efforts to save this Williamstown treasure for current and future generations,” she said. “Sand Springs Recreational Center plans to preserve the things people love most about this special place, but also to make it a world-class swim academy and an important community gathering place.”
The new Carl and Nancy Samuelson Swim Academy was named in honor of Carl Samuelson, beloved head swim coach at Williams College from 1966 until 1999, and his wife Nancy. Between them, Carl and Nancy have taught thousands of children and adults to swim at Lawrence Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, NY, Williams College, Suffield Academy in Suffield, CT and Springfield College in Springfield, MA.
The Samuelson Swim Academy at Sand Springs will offer group, semi-private, and private lessons to children and adults in the community. Swimming scholarships will be available to local children. In addition, the Academy hopes to offer therapeutic swimming options to the elderly and people with special needs. As a member of the Board of Directors, “Coach Sam” will lend his significant expertise to programming at the new Sand Springs. Sand Springs can be a place to have fun, to learn to swim or sharpen swim skills, to exercise and rehabilitate, and enjoy the outdoors in the Berkshires.
Olympic gold medalist, Samantha (Arsenault) Livingstone, who moved to Williamstown last winter, is helping to shape the swim program. She is currently providing private lessons and clinics to young swimmers in the community, to great acclaim, and hopes to continue this at the new Sand Springs.
As a non-profit organization SSRC hopes to keep the membership fees as low as possible so that it truly becomes a community gathering place. In addition, the new Sand Springs will have an expanded variety of café offerings including soups, salads, wraps, smoothies, real ice cream and other healthy and locally- grown options so families and individuals can enjoy a meal in the refreshing environment of the pool.
SSRC hopes to complete its capital campaign by March 2013 and to open to the public in June. “Without the SSRC,” said Carl Samuelson, “I think the community would lose this bucolic place and the recreational opportunities that it provides.”
Members of the SSRC board include Joe Cleary, Hugh Daley, Janette Kessler Dudley (President), Christina Howard (Treasurer), Maryam Kamangar (Clerk), Josiah Low, Steve Narey, Carl Samuelson, Malcolm Smith, Jeff Stripp, and Jennifer Trainer Thompson.
To help support the effort to re-open the historic Sand Springs, donations may be made on-line at: www.sandspringspool.org
Contributions may also be made by check to Sand Springs Recreational Center, Inc. at P.O. Box 800, Williamstown, MA 01267. Sand Springs Recreational Center is a 501(c)(3) and all contributions are fully tax-deductible.
For more information, please contact the organizers at: email@example.com