Crotched Mountain closes daycare, pool closed to public indefinitely

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/12/2020 8:52:09 PM

Crotched Mountain School plans to close Wonderworks daycare facility this week. There are also no plans to reopen the indoor pool, which closed to local swimmers this summer, to the public.

Both decisions came after a long look at what programs the school’s finances could support, Marketing and Communications Vice President David Johnson said this week.

The pool initially closed to the public for the summer in July, and the decision to keep it closed came after several months of searching unsuccessfully for a potential partnership throughout the fall, Johnson said.

“I understand people are passionate about it, for sure, we regret not being able to offer it.”

As for the daycare center, “Having a childcare center on a mountain isn’t super convenient for people,” Johnson said.

Wonderworks, the daycare at Crotched Mountain School, had been serving between 15 and 20 children, toddlers through pre-K.

The program had been open to the public as well as families of staff members, and was supported by other funds and revenues within the school, Johnson said.

“It’s something we were proud of, but it’s one of those services we weren’t able to support anymore,” he said.

A good percentage of users were staff members who worked on the mountain, Johnson said. The school worked with affected staff members to make alternate arrangements and offered flexible hours after giving a 30-day notice, he said.

The personnel, administration and maintenance costs associated with keeping public hours at the pool proved prohibitive, Johnson said, but the pool remains available for Crotched Mountain students.

“We have students where aquatics use is a part of their individualized education program,” he said, and others who go to the pool as part of a therapeutic recreation program after school.

Pool hours are now exclusively limited to students’ use.

“The staffing has reflected that as well as the administration,” he said.

“We did some due diligence and reached out to potential partners,” primarily the Granite YMCA in Goffstown, Johnson said, because the school would need a long-term partnering organization to make public access viable.

“It’s tough, it takes a lot of resources,” he said, adding that the two organizations remain “awesome friends” and continue to look into potential collaborations for summer programming.

Bennington resident and former Crotched Mountain School employee Tom Badgley said he is disappointed the pool will not reopen to the public. 

“I do not understand how the pool can cost ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate’ but remain open but closed to a source of revenues to offset the very minor extra costs of opening the pool to the public for a couple hours a day,” Badgley said. “My conclusion is, they don’t want to be bothered ... with the administration of 30 or 40 people.”

Badgley said he would be happy to volunteer to handle the additional administration associated with holding public hours at the pool. Badgley received a lifetime membership to the pool upon his retirement 11 years ago, and said he and his swim friends miss having access to the pool on the mountain.

“I am very grateful for the 11 years I was able to swim for free. At 75, I am still very much alive,” he said, “and I am very willing to start paying my fair share.”

Badgley said he’s not currently swimming, as his closest option for lap swimming is 45 minutes away at the YMCA in Goffstown.

“I’m waiting for the water to warm up in the ponds,” he said. “I’m also waiting for Crotched Mountain to change their minds.”

“This is a huge, huge loss to the community,” former Crotched Mountain pool user and Peterborough resident Peggy Brown wrote in an email to Crotched Mountain CEO Ned Olney. “I am super disappointed and wish there had been a different outcome.”

She added, there is a dearth of community fitness options in the area.

“I am aghast that with the current medical information about childhood obesity and related diseases and costs, the clear need for more youth fitness activity & prevention of drowning accidents, that a school and health facility is canceling these medical interventions in 2020!” she wrote.

Brown said there are dwindling reasons for community members to come to the Crotched Mountain campus.

“I believe that will be an even bigger cost than the [money] needed to run a pool program,” she wrote.

The Bond Wellness Center has taken on a handful of former Crotched Mountain pool users, staff member Patti Aho said. And although the Wellness Center’s monthly dues are higher than Crotched Mountain’s rates, Aho said, she has been waiving the $100 joining fee for any other former Crotched Mountain user who signs up. The facility’s two pools do not accommodate lap swimming, but members can swim in place in a swim current pool or use a Bowswim (a resistance band for swimming in place), Aho said. She added that pool capacity hasn’t been an issue since the pool is open for free swimming any time there isn’t a class scheduled. The Wellness Center has also expanded their swimming class schedule to include children’s swim lessons on Saturdays, she said. Monthly dues vary depending on each individual’s circumstances, Aho said.

Although the pool is indefinitely closed to the public, Johnson said he’d “never say never” to reopening for public use.

“We’re always keeping our ears open for what works for Crotched Mountain, and the community of course.” Johnson said.

Anyone who would like to contact CEO Ned Olney can reach him at ned.olney@crotchedmountain.org.


Jobs



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