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Douglaston Club pool plan draws member ire over money

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Some members of the Douglaston Club are upset over a recent proposal by the club's management to upgrade their pool at a cost running into millions of dollars."The board of directors are trying to ram through an ill-advised and overpriced pool project," said member Peter Wolf, who has been at the club since 1981. "They're not just doing the pool. They want to redo the entire club."Club officials pointed out the current pool is 25 years old, with structural infirmities that will eventually need to be addressed."As the board of directors we're responsible for making prudent decisions about operations of the club," said board member Fred Ringler, who is the chairman of the club's long-range projects committee. "It's not just a case of deciding to beautify the club, but also to protect the club."The venerable Douglaston Club, located at West Drive and Manor Road, is housed in a landmarked mansion and is a visible sign of the waterfront community's wealthy legacy. But, according to Wolf, the not-for-profit club often runs at a loss, which to him is all the more reason not to spend an estimated $1.75 million to $2.45 million on a new six-lane pool.At an informational meeting last week, members were given outlines of two plans to renovate the pool. A list of objectives openly stated that the goal of the new pool was "to protect the Douglaston Club and its financial viability by addressing its most important income-generating asset, the pool." The club's secondary plan to increase revenue focuses on expanding the courtyard snack area next the pool, in one plan to almost six times its size. "The pool is the largest source of income for the club," Ringler said. "If something happenes to it,if we lose a summer season (because of repairs), we'll be in deep trouble financially."Board president Mark Siver said young families, who constitute most of the club's new membership, have led the drive for a new pool."Young families want to use the pool and are really behind this," he said. "They want to have a special place to come to. It's been a real rebirth over last couple of years. And we want to try to make sure it stays that way."Some members agree the current five-lane pool is not appealing."It's a very difficult decision because you're not going to get new members with the old pool," said another club member who asked not to be identified. "On the other hand, it might get so expensive some people can't afford it. But you don't have the inalienable right to join a club."Wolf said the projected cost of the pool will drive monthly fees up from the current $135 by at least $50 or $75 more a month."This is out-of-control spending," said Wolf, who added he planned to resign from the club if the controversial pool upgrade goes through.The club's voting membership will decide on the pool at the annual meeting, scheduled for Monday.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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