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May 28, 2020: 11:00 PM

Dear CORA Families,

As you already know, the situation with COVID-19 continues to change and evolve on a daily basis. The CORA Board of Directors is supportive of those families who want to see the pool open this summer, while understanding other families aren’t as comfortable. We have established a tab on our website for COVID-19. This is the best place to find information about our current plans and information about all the steps we are taking to safely open the pool. This tab will also have an FAQ document that we will continue to update as new information is available to us. We wanted to take a moment to share some updated options for membership as of May 27, 2020.

As we have previously shared, even if we don’t open we have expenses to cover. As such the board has established an option for families who wish to remain members of CORA but don’t want to join for 2020.

COVID-19 Membership Hold: This fee has been set at $150 for all pool membership types. This means no access to the pool or tennis courts for the 2020 season. By paying these dues, you will not have to pay an initiation fee in order to return in 2021.  If you change your mind later in the summer, you will be expected to bring your membership amount to the full amount before gaining access to the pool.

Full membership: For those planning to join us at CORA this year dues will remain at $430 for families and $280 for couples that meet this membership criteria. This allows you to have full access to the pool and tennis courts. If the pool does not open members would be refunded their money minus the $150 COVID-19 Membership hold fee. Members will not be able to access the pool until the payment for dues have been received and verified. After June 12th payments and membership forms will be accepted by the manager on duty at the pool.

Tennis Only Membership: Since the tennis courts are not impacted by closures these rates remain the same $150 per adult and $75 per child under the age of 18.

Members who choose to not pay the full membership or the COVID-19 Membership hold would be considered inactive members who would be subject to an initiation fee prior to returning in 2021. We previously asked for dues to be paid by June 1. We are hopeful many of you will still be able to meet this deadline so that we can determine our next steps.

As you know, typically dues increase every few weeks. The board has determined that our dues will remain at the early bird rates and will not increase during the summer of 2020.

We thank the many families who have already paid their dues in full! We know this is new information and that some of you may have changed your minds. As such, the board will accept a request for the refund minus the COVID-19 Membership Hold of $150 prior to June 11th. Once a refund is requested this will mean no access to the pool or tennis courts for the 2020 season. To request this refund please email us at covid19@chestnutoaks.org prior to June 11th.

We hope these new membership options will help some families make a decision. As you know, we are going to follow the CDC guidelines and the mandates of Governor Northam. Please visit our FAQ page for more details of what summer 2020 might look like at CORA pending these decisions.

Sincerely,

CORA Board of Directors

May 20, 2020; 8:16 PM

In response to many of the questions we have been receiving from members:

 

On the local news this morning I saw a pool that is open--why isn’t CORA open?  Any pool that is open right now is operating under Phase 1 restrictions.  These pools are only open for lap swimming, one person at a time per lane.  No deck furniture is set up, and some of the pools don’t even have open bathrooms.  The Board feels that this is not practical, nor is it fiscally responsible to the membership to operate when a maximum of 6 people could use the pool at a time.

 

Is CORA still planning to open on June 12th?  Yes, and we will need to take into account suggested guidelines as well as any legal restrictions that are in place at the time.  Current definite plans include placing fewer chairs on the deck and reconfiguring entrance/exit points, and regular cleaning of the facilities.  We will look into providing hand sanitizers and/or wipes at various places around the pool, and certainly in the bathrooms.  The snack bar will not be open initially.  As space will be limited, to prioritize member attendance we will not be allowing guests, with the exception of individuals holding a babysitter pass.

Will there be other operational changes at CORA?  Certainly, especially at opening.  Everyone’s hope is that the restrictions in all facets of our lives, including the pool, will continue to ease.  Obviously, many of these decisions are out of our control.  Board Members are meeting weekly, talking daily, and have been gathering information from many sources; some pools across the country are contemplating making patrons bring their own chairs, and having them reserve times to attend the pool.  We hope to not be that restrictive, but there are still many unknown factors, and the Governor could change restrictions at any time. 

 

THE BOARD IS CRAFTING A DOCUMENT OUTLINING THE OPERATIONAL CHANGES THAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE AT THE POOL ON JUNE 12TH, AND WILL DISTRIBUTE THAT AS SOON AS IT IS FINALIZED.

 

With all this uncertainty, should I pay my 2020 dues?  Yes.  CORA not having received dues leads to more uncertainty, as it makes it difficult to determine our 2020 financial situation and 2021 season viability.  The Board extended the dues deadline, and did away with the late fees, due to the uncertainty - - we hoped to know exactly what we would be allowed to do, or if we would be allowed to open at all, before finalizing dues collection.  We extended the deadline as far as possible, to June 1st, once we felt that June 12th opening was realistic. 

CORA is a nonprofit, and is not owned by a company that demands a specific return on investment. Our Board members are volunteers, and we do not pay a management company to operate the pool.  However, we do need to ensure that we remain financially viable for 2020 and beyond; we have extensive financial obligations even if the pool does not open for one day during the summer.  In 2019, our expenses totaled approximately $188,000, and we estimate that CORA would need approximately 35% of that total, or about $65,000 in 2020 even if we did not open for swimming at all.  By opening three weeks later than planned, the only substantial savings we will see are from employee wages; these savings come out to only around $45 per member, based on 2019 membership.  We certainly hope most 2019 members return in 2020, but our retention rate is never 100%, and our new member numbers will be lower than normal, which means a reduction in initiation fees revenue.  Prorating dues due to a few weeks reduced wages expense, in addition to other loss of revenue, could result in substantial dues increase in 2021.

The preceding information, hopefully, helps explain the importance of getting dues submitted--without knowing membership level for the year, it is almost impossible to truly forecast our current situation.

The Board has been surveying our area competitors - - i.e., other independent, non-HOA and non-Country Club pools.  Most appeared to have extended dues deadlines, though not as late as CORA, and have eliminated late fees.  They are requesting normal dues and are planning on opening between June 10th and 12th.  And, all of them also admit that plans could still change.

The worst-case scenario is that something changes in the next few weeks delaying opening even further, or that pools open and subsequently are forced to close.  If either of those situations occurs, the Board will come up with a dues structure that will be less than normal dues, but will allow us to maintain the facilities without hopefully dipping into our reserves.  CORA could not survive if we had no dues in a given year.  CORA has been around for over 50 years, and we plan to be around for many years in the future.

The Board would like to thank all of the members for their understanding and patience.  There is virtually no part of our lives that is currently unaffected by COVID, and unfortunately that includes the pool, the environment that we count on to be our break from normal stress.

We would also like to thank our dedicated employees, who have already been working to get the pool ready to go.

We certainly hope that we will be able to spend some relaxing time with friends at the pool this summer. 

 

Thank you for your continued support, 

CORA Board of Directors

May 15, 2020; 8:03 PM

As expected, and as hoped, there has already been much response to yesterday’s message. We certainly wish we had more information - - but the situation is changing almost daily, and there are a lot of possible scenarios. The reason we asked for dues by June 1st is because we need to determine what kind of active membership we will have this summer. We are not ready to cancel the summer by any means - - we hope to be enjoying each other’s company at the pool before too long.

Decisions we make currently will have repercussions for not only this summer, but future years. As mentioned, there are extensive operating expenses even if we don't open, or if we open and only 25 people come to the pool.

Rest assured, we are working on options for members if we don't open, or open on a limited basis - - a member will NOT lose their membership and have to pay the initiation fee again next year as long as they are active this year. There will be some dues structure for members this year, regardless of pool usage. We will develop a plan that is fair, and also leaves us financially viable in 2021. We are working on cutting every possible expense this year. If we do not open this summer, any member that has paid full dues will be reimbursed the difference between paid amount and the restructured dues if they desire.

 

As everyone knows, unlike many pools in the area, CORA is not run by a management company, but by volunteer members. We believe there are many advantages to this structure, including a tremendous cost savings. However it also means we can not necessarily respond to questions as soon as we get them. The Board is monitoring emails and posts, and will make every effort to reply promptly. Some of the questions will undoubtedly bring up issues we may not have considered, and we will need to discuss.

Obviously, this is an unprecedented situation, and we have no doubt that CORA will get through this with the support of our membership. We will make every effort to keep members updated. Often this may involve responding via a membership wide email, and not necessarily to each individual email/post as it is received, since many members will ask similar questions.

Thank you,

CORA Board of Directors

May 15, 2020; 12:00 PM

CORA members,

Greetings, and happy spring! We hope everyone is healthy and managing as best as possible under the current circumstances. We’d like to start by expressing our sincere appreciation for your patience as we worked out some important details for this upcoming pool season. Due to the ever changing nature of things, it is still clear that nobody knows exactly what this summer will bring. While it is unfortunate that we still are unable to provide final decisions and guidelines, we felt strongly that we should share some information and updates. As circumstances change, we will remain flexible and we will keep you informed. Please continue to check your email and www.chestnutoaks.org for the latest information.

To start, we wish to offer a ‘thank you’ to all members that have already submitted 2020 dues. As you may know, CORA has operating expenses that span the entire year, such as insurance, capital expenses, and general maintenance. Expenses are being incurred currently in preparation of the summer season: the pumps will be running and water will need to be kept clean, regardless of how many swimmers we have. Your contributions have put us in a much better position for both the 2020 and 2021 season, and we thank you.

The current plan is that CORA will be open for the Summer 2020 season. Currently, by law, the earliest we could open is June 10th. We have targeted Friday, June 12th as opening. We will follow the current Virginia directives and modify our practices as they change (ex: Social distancing, cleaning surfaces, etc.).

If you have not already paid your 2020 dues and you plan on attending the pool for the 2020 season, please pay your dues by June 1, 2020. Please utilize the ‘early bird special’ rate through June 1, 2020. We’ve done a lot of upfront work to plan for this season, and it would be helpful to know our expected membership level for the year. Payment of 2020 dues this year will not only secure your spot for the 2020 season, but will help put CORA in a better position for the 2021 season and hopefully prevent us from using a substantial expenditure of our cash reserves this year (which could potentially lead to a dues increase in 2021).

Again, PLEASE SUBMIT DUES BY JUNE 1st.

**Due to the extenuating COVID19 financial circumstances, the CORA Board has put into place the following plan:

If we open the pool, and for any reason have to close during the season, the Board will develop a plan that will result in a portion of the 2020 dues being credited to 2021 dues. A formula will be developed based upon the length of the 2020 season, and incurred operating costs for 2020. As noted earlier, CORA has significant operating expenses whether or not the pool is opened.

After opening, we do not expect that the 2020 summer will be business as usual. There likely will be government mandated restrictions that will impact many of our procedures. We anticipate that there will be mandated requirements for capacity and amount of furniture in our spaces. We know that there will be a need for increased cleaning and disinfecting, and once finalized, that information will be shared with members and posted throughout our property.

Since we do not yet know what the specific mandates will be, we have been in contact with other local pools to begin brainstorming and planning. Some other changes that we are considering include:
• Whether or not we have the ability to run a concession stand, with the possibility of providing only prepackaged food
• The need to examine our practices around providing members with ice
• Decreasing or eliminating social events such as cookouts, teen, and adult parties.
• Due to potential limits on capacity and the desire to to give members priority in accessing the pool, the board is considering the possibility that we may not be able to accommodate guests or guest passes (with the exception of babysitter passes)
• Mandates and or a reduction in available staff, which could potentially mean that pool hours would change

 

We wish we could provide more details, but everything is still very fluid right now.

 

Will there be swim team in 2020? We are waiting on guidance from GRAL, which is dependent upon guidance from the government as well.

Thank you for your patience, and your participation as a valued CORA member. We hope to see you at the pool soon. And again – we thank you for being part of the CORA family.

CORA Board of Directors

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info@chestnutoaks.org

804-346-8611 (opening day-closing day)

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2204 N Parham Rd

Richmond, VA 23229

Mailing Address

PO Box 70464

Henrico, VA, 23255

©2020 by Chris Tiller, Chestnut Oaks Recreation Association.