Valley Swim Club Sold to Synagogue

Private club went bankrupt after becoming mired in racial discrimination controversy

Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 9:50 AM EDT
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Valley Swim Club Sold to Synagogue

NBCPhiladelphia.com

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A Northeast Philadelphia synagogue that bought the suburban swim club accused of racial discrimination last year says it plans to use the property for recreation for its 2,000-plus members.

The Congregation Beth Solomon bought The Valley Club property in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. for $1.46 million at a bankruptcy auction on Thursday. The club filed for bankruptcy in November following discrimination lawsuits and a critical state report.

National protests erupted last summer after the club revoked the memberships of 56 mostly black and Hispanic day campers from the Creative Steps program after their first swim outing. The club said there were too many children and that many couldn't swim, and race played no role in the decision.

"We expect to use it consistent with its existing recreational nature," Congregation Beth Solomon attorney Vlad Tinovsky said Friday.

He said, however, that officials will wait until after the sale closes within 30 days to come up with definite plans on how the 10.5-acre property will be used.

The U.S. Justice Department had said in a court filing that it hoped the site would become a public swimming concession.

"I suspect that there will be opportunities for outside groups to use the facility on mutually agreeable terms," Tinovsky said.

Substantial alterations to the site could require complicated negotiations with Lower Moreland Township. Tinovsky said the only record of the property's permitted use he could find was a transcript of a zoning board hearing from 1953, the year before the Valley Club opened.

"It's been a swim club as long as there has been anything there," township manager Rick Mellor said.
 

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