Ymca To Sell Swim Club In Tredyffrin Selling The 40-year-old Swimming Facility Will Help Fix Up The Group's Easttown Property.

Posted: October 29, 1996

BERWYN — Sometimes the young must make sacrifices for the old.

Tredyffrin's roughly 40-year-old Great Valley Swim Club, a facility of the Upper Main Line YMCA, has been put up for sale, with some of the proceeds planned for much-needed repairs at the association's 90-year-old facility at the former J. Cardiner Cassatt estate in Easttown.

The board of directors decided last summer that the 10-acre swim club on Howellville and Bodine Roads - open each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day - was more a drain than an asset.

``The main emphasis is why continue to put money into Great Valley, how much more money to put into it,'' said Maynard Honesty, a board member. ``The dollar figure grew, and it got to the point where we had to decide we couldn't justify it.''

Though there are no agreements of sale yet, interested developers have been calling the association, proposing houses in the $300,000 to $325,000 range, said Joe Tankle, director of the UMLY.

To maintain the swim club, the association had $68,000 in expenses last summer, which included chemicals for the pools and lifeguards. It made about $37,000 in that same period through the sale of 74 club memberships and rental fees.

Tankle said the decision to sell was not made solely because the association was losing money on Great Valley.

``The big picture is, we've got this asset, and we've got this wonderful community-based center in Berwyn that could be better, but it needs resources,'' Tankle said.

Honesty was adamant that the association is not selling the swim club to reduce its short-term debt. On the contrary, he said, part of the money would be put in an endowment fund for youth programs. The rest of the renovation money would come from a capital campaign that is scheduled for fall 1997.

The sale - which could net an estimated $700,000 - would be part of a long-term plan outlined by the board to upgrade the historic mansion on Berwyn-Paoli Road without a ``burdensome increase in membership dues,'' Honesty said.

The mansion was built in 1907 and was acquired by the association in the 1960s. Its 54-acre site has five outdoor pools, a tennis court, a gymnasium and 15 acres of wooded areas.

The age of the facility is beginning to show, and board members want to spend as much as $3 million to improve it. Planners haven't worked out all the details, but according to a ``wish list,'' they hope to install a new parking lot; upgrade heating, plumbing and electrical systems in the mansion; repair water problems in the basement; and expand the outdoor activities on the grounds, Tankle said.

The board is considering a walking trail through the site's wooded areas, and a rope course to develop self-confidence in youths, Tankle said.

Planners estimate that with upgrades in parking and scheduling, the mansion would have the space to absorb the swimmers who used to go to Great Valley.

``After monitoring usage at the Upper Main Line, we found the facility up here is not being heavily used for recreational swimming, especially on weekends,'' Tankle said.

The sale will be a slow process, and Great Valley could open its doors one more summer if the future owner of the lot chooses, Tankle said.

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